COROT was first proposed in December 1996 by the French National Space Agency (CNES). Over the next three years, the project's feasibility was studied. In September 1999, a call for potential European partners was made and in March 2000, CNES gave the green light to build COROT, and is now leading the mission. The other international partners are: the European Space Agency (ESA), Austria, Belgium, Germany, Brazil and Spain.
CNES is responsible for the entire system and for the launch contract with the French-Russian company Starsem, who are providing a Soyuz launcher. CNES appointed Alcatel Alenia Space as Prime Contractor to build the satellite and co-run the launch campaign. CNES is also managing the scientific payload, whose subsystems are managed by French laboratories (LAM, Marseille; Paris-Meudon Observatory; and IAS, Orsay).
ESA has joined COROT by designing and developing the optics for the telescope, which sits at the heart of the spacecraft, and testing the payload. Through this collaboration a number of European scientists have been selected as Co-Investigators in an open competition. They come from Denmark, Switzerland, the UK and Portugal. As a result of ESA's participation in COROT, scientists from ESA's Member States will be given access to the satellite's data. The telescope's baffle has also been developed by a team at ESA's ESTEC site.
ESA's Research and Scientific Support department (RSSD) at ESTEC is a full partner in COROT, having provided the two on-board Data Processing Units (DPU's).
Austria is contributing hardware (the 'BEX' link module between the camera detectors and the on-board computer), and a mission-specific ground station in Vienna.
Belgium contributed the telescope baffle, designed and developed by ESA in the framework of the ESA PRODEX optional programme, and with the COROTcase, a component of the instrument equipment case.
Brazil is participating in COROT through ground-based optical observations from ESO (Chile) and LNA (Brazil), and with a mission-specific ground station in Alcantara.
Germany provided the COROT Data Processing Unit (DPU) on-board software and is contributing ground-based monitoring of the stellar fields that COROT will survey.
Spain is contributing with the ground-based monitoring and calibration of the COROT targets and will supplement the mission with follow-up observations from ground. It is also providing a COROT mission data centre.
All participating countries will also provide science data analysis.
The ground stations used for COROT are located in Kiruna (S), Aussaguel (F) Hartebeesthoek (South Africa), Kourou (French Guyana), with mission-specific ground stations in Alcantara (Brazil) and Vienna (A).