Mankind has been fascinated by the mysteries of the universe for thousands of years. Yet it was only in the course of the last fifty years that we succeeded in exploring the sensitive ecosystem of our home planet Earth from space, sending space probes to the very edge of our solar system and astronauts to the Moon. Increasingly, the economic, political and cultural importance of a country as well as its innovative capacity depends on the eminence of its scientific and technological performance, a crucial factor in attracting leading researchers and industrial investments.
Thanks to the excellence of its engineers and scientists, Germany has completed more than 100 national and international space missions to date. To complement these there are numerous experiments such as those on the D1 and D2 missions, the MIR space station and the International Space Station (ISS). As the space Administration of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) we have been entrusted by the federal government with planning and implementing Germany's space activities.
Entitled "Space - Perspectives for Application and Research", Germany's national space program integrates the country's contributions to the programs of the European Space Administration (ESA) with the national promotion program of the DLR Space Administration and the research and development projects conducted by German universities and research institutes, particularly the DLR research and development division. The budget of these programs amounts to around one billion euros per year.
We implement the program independently under eight sectoral programs dedicated to application-related, scientific and infrastructural themes. These are the fields in which we plan projects that are important to Germany for scientific or strategic reasons. We invite tenders and award contracts for these projects and supervise them afterwards. We also award funds to promote innovative ideas in research and industry.
As Germany's space Administration, we represent the Federal Republic on international bodies such as ESA where Germany's interests need to be presented consistently and efficiently for them to assert themselves in the European contest. To this end, we develop positions and negotiating strategies that reflect Germany's political, strategic, programmatical, industrial and financial views.
Our journey into space has only just begun. For Germany and Europe, space technology is becoming increasingly indispensable in order to resolve global challenges with the aid of innovative applications, increase our knowledge and inspire the next generation.
New insights assist us in coping with the challenges that confront Germany, Europe and the world in terms of environmental protection, mobility, the economy, security and social development. As part of our contribution to European solidarity, we consider it important to enhance Germany's scientific, political, strategic and industrial strength.