The European Space Agency (ESA) and China have been discussing possible joint space missions, including a dual-270kg (600lb) spacecraft mission called Double Star.

The two spacecraft could be launched in December 2002 and April 2003, probably aboard Long March 4 boosters, and would include instruments developed for the ESA Cluster programme.

Double Star would involve one DSP-E satellite being placed into a near-equatorial 28.5°, 550km (340 mile) by 60,000km orbit, while DSP-P would fly in a 350km by 25,000km, 90° inclination polar orbit. The craft would simultaneously collect data about the changing magnetic field and population of electrified particles in different regions of the magnetosphere.

Source: Flight International