Following the decision of ESA earlier this year to select the JUICE mission for launch in 2022, the Athena team has been preparing for the next opportunity to realize a large X-ray observatory within Europe. ESA and its member states have committed to continued support for enabling technologies towards a future large X-ray observatory. More specifically ESA will fund the development of the Silicon Pore Optics towards the goal of achieving an angular resolution of 5" or better, and a complete cryogenic chain to be later integrated with a focal plane assembly of a cryogenic X-ray calorimeter instrument. A community team has been appointed by ESA to provide input into these technical activities. While a detailed plan is still pending, it is anticipated that ESA will initiate a process to select its two future flagship (large-class) missions in 2013, with expected launch dates around 2028 and 2035. Athena or its successor will undoubtedly be a major contender for these launch opportunities. We plan to organise an open workshop in early 2013 to discuss the approach of the community towards the ESA selection process.
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