This artist’s impression shows an imaginary situation with planets orbiting a distant, undefined star many light years away from Earth. The European Space Agency (ESA) PLATO mission has now cleared an important review hurdle so that the flight model can now be constructed. PLATO will be launched in 2026 and then, as a space telescope system, will examine at least 200,000 stars in the Milky Way looking for orbiting planets. It will be situated at a point 1.5 million kilometres beyond Earth’s orbit. One of the scientific focal points will be the search for Earth-like planets.