The DArk Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) is a spaceborne astroparticle physics experiment, launched on 17 December 2015. DAMPE will identify possible dark matter signatures by detecting electrons and photons in the 5 GeV–10 TeV energy range. It will also measure the flux of nuclei up to 100 TeV, for the study of the high energy cosmic ray origin and propagation mechanisms. DAMPE is composed of four sub-detectors: a plastic strip scintillator, a silicon–tungsten tracker–converter (STK), a BGO imaging calorimeter and a neutron detector. The STK is composed of six tracking planes of 2 orthogonal layers of single-sided micro-strip detectors, for a total detector surface of ca. 7 m2. The STK has been extensively tested for space qualification. Also, numerous beam tests at CERN have been done to study particle detection at silicon module level, and at full detector level. After description of the DAMPE payload and its scientific mission, we will describe the STK characteristics and assembly. We will then focus on some results of single ladder performance tests done with particle beams at CERN.