The World Space Observatory is an unconventional space project proceeding via distributed studies. The present design, verified for feasibility, consists of a 1.7-meter telescope operating at the second Largangian point of the Earth-Sun system. The focal plane instruments consist of three UV spectrometers covering the spectral band from Lyman alpha to the atmospheric cutoff with R~55,000 and offering long-slit capability over the same band with R~1,000. In addition, a number of UV and optical imagers view adjacent fields to that sampled by the spectrometers. Their performance compares well with that of HST/ACS and the spectral capabilities of WSO rival those of HST/COS.
The WSO, as presently conceived, will be constructed and operated with the same distributed philosophy. This will allow as many groups and countries to participate, each contributing as much as feasible but allowing multi-national participation. Although designed originally with a conservative approach, the WSO embodies some innovative ideas and will allow a world-class mission to be realized with a moderate budget.