Alcatel Space has been responsible for a feasibility study contract, awarded by the European Space Agency, and dedicated to the definition of preliminary interferometric concepts for the direct detection and characterisation of exo-planets associated with nearby stars. The retained concept is a six free-flyer-telescope interferometer, with a variable baseline ranging from 50 to 500 m. The collected wavefronts are combined on a 7th free-flying hub satellite at the centre of the array, and the observations are performed in the thermal Infra-Red spectral band. The latter choice is made for two reasons : firstly, the wavelength providing optimal contrast between the planetary and stellar (background) signals is approximately 10μm secondly, the spectral features of interest for the detection of life as we know it (CO2, H2O, O3 , CH4 ... ) lie in the band between 6 and 18 μm. The system requirements for such an instrument are very severe, owing to the physical nature of the mission concept; i.e. that of a coronographic stellar interferometer: in order to achieve satisfactory extinction of the unwanted flux generated by the central star, such a concept will impose the control of optical pathlength differences between telescopes to within a small fraction of a wavelength, milli-arcsec pointing stabilities, 10-3 amplitude equalisation, achromatic check-shifts of some beams with respect to the others, and the use of passively cooled cryogenic telescopes.