List of proposed space observatories

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List of proposed space observatories: examples of past and present space observatory plans, concepts, and proposals. For observatories in orbit, List of space telescopes. Unlike that list, this list includes concept and proposals that were not and in all likelihood will not ever be launched as they may have been cancelled or were only ever proposals.

Active in this list means it is still under consideration for development, not that it is in orbit

  •   Active
  •   Other
  •   Merged, Cancelled, Superseded

Name Agency Planned
Launch Date
Fate Planned Location Ref(s)
Advanced Technology Large Aperture Space Telescope Space Telescope Science Institute Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange point [1]
X-Ray Evolving Universe Spectroscopy Mission (XEUS) ESA Merged into IXO [2]
Constellation-X NASA Merged into IXO
International X-ray Observatory NASA & ESA & JAXA No funding 2011 [3]
SIM Lite Astrometric Observatory NASA 2015 No funding 2010 [4]
Darwin Mission ESA - - Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange point [5]
Euclid ESA 2019 Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange point
Terrestrial Planet Finder NASA TBA No funding 2011 [6]
Dark Universe Observatory NASA Superseded by WFIRST Earth orbit (600 km) [7][8]
Dark Energy Space Telescope NASA & DOE Superseded by WFIRST [9]
Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) (IR) NASA & DOE 2020 Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange point [10][11]
Astromag Free-Flyer (Particles) NASA 1 January 2005 Earth orbit (500 km) [12][13]
VSOP-2 (Astro-G) (Radio) JAXA 2012 Cancelled 2011 - [14]
Exoplanetary Circumstellar Environments and Disk Explorer (EXCEDE) NASA 2016 Sun-synchronous Earth orbit, 2000 km [15][16]
Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) NASA 2018 No funding 2011 Solar orbit (approx. 1 AU; trailing Earth) [17]
World Space Observatory (WSO-UV) RSA - [18]

Additional examples[edit]

Calisto architecture for SAFIR.[19]


Design studies[edit]

Various proposals or concepts for high-energy light observatories:[24]

  • AdEPT: Advanced Energetic Pair Telescope: pair production telescope concept for gamma-ray polarimetry
  • APT: Advanced Pair Telescope
  • AEGIS: Astrophysics Experiment for Grating and Imaging Spectroscopy, soft X-ray spectrometer.
  • Arcus, X-ray spectrometer concept for International Space Station
  • ASCOT: Advanced Scintillator Compton Telescope
  • AXSIO: Advanced X-ray Spectroscopic Imaging Observatory
  • AXTAR: Advanced X-Ray Timing Array, X-ray timing mission
  • BEST: Black Hole Evolution and Space-Time Observatory (include deep hard X-ray imaging (5 - 70 keV))
  • Black Hole Finder
  • CASTER: Coded Aperture Survey Telescope for Energetic Radiation
  • EXIST: Energetic X-Ray Imaging Survey Telescope
  • BHI: Black Hole Imager
  • EPE: Extreme Physics Explorer
  • EREXS: Epoch of Reionization Energetic X-ray Survey
  • EXIST: Energetic X-ray Imaging Survey Telescope
  • Gen-X: The Generation X-Ray Mission
  • HEX-P: High-Energy X-ray Probe
  • IXPE: Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer
  • ISS-Lobster
  • Pharos
  • PRAXyS: Polarimetry of Relativistic X-ray Sources
  • SMART-X: Square Meter, Arcsecond Resolution X-ray Telescope
  • SAHARA: Spectral Analysis with High Angular Resolution Astronomy
  • WhimEx: Warm-Hot Inter-Galactic Medium Explorer
  • WFXIS: Wide-Field X-ray Imaging Spectrometer
  • WFXT: Wide-Field X-ray Telescope
  • Xenia: a Probe of Cosmic Chemical Evolution
  • X-Ray Surveyor
  • A-STAR: All-Sky Transient Astrophysics Explorer
  • Athena, an X-ray observatory
  • DAMPE: Dark Matter Particle Explorer
  • EDGE: Explorer of Diffuse emission and Gamma ray burst Explosions
  • GRAVITAS: General Relativistic Astrophysics Via Timing and Spectroscopy
  • LOFT: Large Observatory For X-ray Timing
  • MIRAX: Monitor e Imageador de Raios X
  • NHXM: New Hard X-ray Mission
  • PheniX, focussing X-ray telescope concept
  • Tsubame, micro-satellite for X-ray polarimetry
  • XIPE: the X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer (ESA)


For launch in the 2030s NASA is evaluating four possible designs: the Far-Infrared Surveyor, X-Ray Surveyor, Habitable-Exoplanet Imaging Mission (HabEx), and Large Ultraviolet-Optical-Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR).[25]



  1. ^ "Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope". Space Telescope Science Institute. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  2. ^ "KEUS - The X-Ray Evolving Universe Spectroscopy Mission". ESA. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  3. ^ "Official NASA IXO Home Page". NASA. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  4. ^ "SIM Lite JPL". NASA. Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  5. ^ "ESA Science & Technology: Darwin". ESA. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  6. ^ "Planet Quest: Missions - Terrestrial Planet Finder". NASA. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  7. ^ "Dark Universe Observatory". Sonoma State University. Retrieved 2008-02-29. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Dark Universe Observatory - About the Launch Vehicle and Orbit". Sonoma State University. Retrieved 2008-02-29. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Destiny JDEM Mission Public Page". National Optical Astronomy Observatory. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  10. ^ "$1.6 Billion Telescope Would Search Alien Planets and Probe Dark Energy". SPACE. Retrieved 2010-10-09. 
  11. ^ "Astro2010 Report Release Presentation" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 2010-10-09. 
  12. ^ "NASA - NSSD - Spacecraft - Trajectory Details (Astromag FF)". NASA. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  13. ^ "NASA - NSSDC - Spacecraft - Details (Astromag-F)". NASA. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  14. ^ "VSOP-2 project". JAXA. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  15. ^ "EXCEDE Home Page". University of Arizona. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  16. ^ "EXCEDE the Search for Planets". Astrobiology magazine. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  17. ^ "ESA Science & Technology: LISA". ESA. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  18. ^ WSO-UV
  19. ^ SAFIR
  20. ^ Gunter's Space Page - ExoplanetSat
  21. ^ M. Wong , et al. - A Dedicated Space Observatory for Time-domain Solar System Science
  22. ^ Universe Today - NASA Considers Sending a Telescope to Outer Solar System by Bruce Dorminey on December 19, 2011
  23. ^ ZEBRA
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ Scoles, Sarah. "NASA Considers Its Next Flagship Space Telescope". Scientific American. Retrieved 2016-03-31. 

External links[edit]