A proposal for European participation in SPICA was submitted to ESA under the ESA Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 framework in 2007.
The proposal was selected by ESA in October 2007 for further study as a candidate M-class mission, with the character of "Mission of Opportunity". The assessment phase ran from November 2007 to August 2009. This phase included an internal ESA study of the mission concept, as well as 1-year industrial studies of the SPICA cryogenic telescope assembly running in parallel at Thales Alenia Space (France) and at Astrium (France), and a study of similar duration of a concept for a far-infrared imaging spectrometer, SAFARI, by a European consortium.
An updated proposal for European participation in SPICA, based on the outcome of the ESA assessment study, was put forward in late 2009/early 2010 for consideration by the ESA advisory structure by whom it was well-received. The proposal called on ESA to assume a partner agency role in SPICA by making the following contributions: (1) provision of the SPICA cryogenic Telescope Assembly, (2) use of a European ground station, (3) collaboration on science operations and (4) management of interfaces between JAXA and the European instrument, SAFARI. The SAFARI instrument itself is to be procured by ESA from the European Consortium.
SPICA is currently in an extended study phase. A decision by ESA on whether to move into implementation phase will be taken on a timescale that is compatible with the decision by JAXA to take SPICA from its current pre-project to project phase.