The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest technology project of all time: an outpost of humanity in space. At the same time, it is a flying laboratory with outstanding possibilities for scientific and industrial research.
The ISS proves that peaceful international use of space is to the advantage of all its partners, in spite of the initial delays and technical problems. On the contrary, this ambitious project is continuing with enormous commitment from all taking part. It has been crewed now since 2 November 2000.
The huge orbiting laboratory which is the ISS includes contributions from the USA, Russia, Canada, Japan and the member states of the European Space Agency (ESA).
Germany is the foremost ISS partner of ESA in Europe. As largest financial contributer, the Federal Republic contributes 41 per cent of the European infrastructure and to the scientific use of the space station. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) coordinates the German ESA activities within the ISS programmes related to structure, enterprise and use of the station.
Germany contributes, among other things:
- The Columbus Laboratory
- The developement of the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle)
- The planning and execution of the operations/logistics programme, including how the astronauts are used
- The operation of the Columbus Contol Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen
- The data management for the Russian module Zarya
- The robotic arm (ERA) for the Russian part of the ISS
German scientists have been active since the beginning of the scientific use of the space station in 2001. Since that time they have accomplished numerous experiments onboard the ISS. These include in particular the investigation of the human equilibrium system, the breeding of protein crystals, basic physics (plasma research) and radiation-biological questions.