International Space Station ISS

Hu­man­i­ty's largest out­post in space

The International Space Station ISS is the largest technology project of all time – humanity's outpost in space. At the same time, it is a orbiting laboratory that provides unprecedented possibilities for scientific and industrial research.

The International Space Station ISS has proven that peaceful international use of space is both possible and beneficial to all partners, and even delays and technical problems have not changed this. On the contrary, this ambitious project continues with enormous commitment. Ever since it was first occupied on 2 November 2000, astronauts from various countries have been conducting research together on board the ISS.

The orbiting laboratory is currently jointly operated by the USA, Russia, the member states of the European Space Agency ESA, Canada and Japan.

Germany is the most prominent ISS partner of ESA. As the largest contributing member, the Federal Republic finances approximately 40 percent of the ESA programme for operating the ISS and plays a major role in the scientific usage of the space station.

The German Space Agency at DLR coordinates the German contribution to ESA's ISS programmes related to the expansion, operation and use of the station. These include, among others:

  • The Columbus research laboratory
  • Planning and implementation of the operational and logistics programmes
  • Astronaut missions
  • The operation of the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen
  • The data management system for the Russian module Zarya
  • The European Robotic Arm (ERA) on the Russian segment of the space station
  • The European Service Module (ESM) for the US crewed spacecraft MPCV (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle)

For Germany, the space station is both the present and the future. German researchers have been involved in the scientific use of the space station since 2001. With its research on board the ISS, DLR is pursuing three primary goals, namely the exploration of nature on Earth, opening up new potential applications for research and laying out the foundations for future exploration, such as long-term missions to the Moon and Mars.




Background article

Participating DLR institutes and facilities



Elke Heinemann

Digital Communications
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne
Tel: +49 2203 601-1852

Volker Schmid

ISS Specialist Group Leader, Head of the Cosmic Kiss Mission
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
German Space Agency at DLR
Science and Exploration
Königswinterer Straße 522-524, 53227 Bonn