Cosmic Vision is the third campaign of space science and space exploration missions in the Science Programme of the European Space Agency (ESA). Formulated in 2005 as Cosmic Vision: Space Science for Europe 2015–2025, the campaign succeeded the Horizon 2000 Plus campaign and envisioned a number of missions in the fields of astronomy and solar system exploration beyond 2015. Ten missions across four funding categories are planned to be launched under Cosmic Vision, with the first being CHEOPS in December 2019. A mission to the Galilean moons (JUICE), the first deep space mission with an opportunistic target (Comet Interceptor), and one of the first gravitational-wave space observatories (LISA), are planned for launch as part of the Cosmic Vision campaign.
The initial call of ideas and concepts was launched in 2004 with a subsequent workshop held in Paris to define more fully the themes of the Vision under the broader headings of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Solar System Exploration and Fundamental Physics.
By early 2006, the formulation for a 10-year plan based around 4 key questions emerged:
In March 2007, a call for mission ideas was formally released, which yielded in 19 astrophysics, 12 fundamental physics and 19 Solar System mission proposals.
In March 2012, ESA announced it had begun working on a series of small class (S-class) science missions. The first winning S-class concept is set to receive 50 million euros (£42m) and will be readied for launch in 2017.
Small class missions (S-class) are intended to have a cost to ESA not exceeding 50 million euros. A first call for mission proposals was issued in March 2012. Approximately 70 letters of Intent were received. In October 2012 the first S-class mission was selected. The current list of S-class missions include the following:
Medium class (M-class) projects are relatively stand-alone projects and have a price cap of approximately 500 million euros. The first two M-class missions, M1 and M2, were selected in October 2011:
Originally it was intended that Large class (L-class) projects were to be carried out in collaboration with other partners and should have an ESA cost not exceeding 900 million euros. However, in April 2011 it became clear that budget pressures in the US meant that an expected collaboration with NASA on the L1 mission would not be practical; so the down-selection was delayed and the missions re-scoped on the assumption of ESA lead with some limited international participation.
Three L-class missions have been selected:
At the ESA Science Programme Committee (SPC) Workshop on 16 May 2018, the creation of a series of special opportunity Fast class (F-class) missions was proposed. These F-missions would be jointly launched alongside each M-class mission starting from M4, and would focus on "innovative implementation" in order to broaden the range of scientific topics covered by the mission. The inclusion of F-class missions into the Cosmic Vision program would require a significant increase of the science budget, to be discussed in future meetings.
In 2019, the first F-class mission was selected:
Occasionally ESA makes contributions to space missions led by another space agency. These missions include:
A contribution to SPICA (Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics), a Japanese JAXA mission was evaluated as such a mission of opportunity within the Cosmic Vision. It is no longer considered within that framework, but was one of the finalists being considered for M5.