The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is Germany's national research centre for aeronautics and space. Its extensive research and development work is integrated into national and international cooperative ventures. As Germany's Space Agency, the German federal government has given DLR responsibility for the forward planning and implementation of the German space programme as well as international representation of Germany's interests. Approximately 5,100 people work for DLR. DLR has 28 institutes and facilities at eight locations in Germany and it is organised as a chartered non-profit making organisation.
Within the DLR the Institute of Aerospace Medicine is the only research institution that primarily deals with life science problems concerning traffic, aviation, and space flight. The Institute's research activities are focused on the central task of providing for the health and performance of the persons involved (pilot, crew, passenger, astronaut, motorist, resident etc.). Furthermore, from a medical point of view the development of countermeasures to protect humans from the effects of effects of radiation and weightlessness is one of our main tasks to enable long-term stays of humans in space. The institute also works on the problem of adaptation of life to extreme environments and takes part in projects that are concerned with the search for life in space.
The Radiation Biology Department of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine is working on aviation and space relevant questions regarding the effects of radiation on humans and the biosphere. These include, amongst radiation health and protection issues for astronauts and aircraft crews, monitoring the biological consequences of environmental radiation and genotoxic conditions by biological dosimetry and biosensors and bioassays, the assessment of habitability of other planets with special consideration of possible Mars mission scenarios.
The Department is involved in planning and executing numerous space experiments (since Apollo 16) on manned and unmanned space missions as well as in designing, developing and constructing hardware for experimentation in space. Dr. Günther Reitz develops as project lead the ESA Facility MATROSHKA which now operates since 5 years on the ISS and he is the science lead of the international science group working on MATROSHKA.