SpaceX has conducted preliminary training for NASA astronauts and personnel for operating the new Dragon spacecraft during a mission to the International Space Station.

The training is aimed at familiarising the crew on interfacing with the Dragon spacecraft for approaching and berthing to the ISS.

The astronauts were briefed on vehicle ingress and egress, habitability of the spacecraft, payload handling and commanding through SpaceX’s commercial orbital transportation services (COTS) ultra high frequency (UHF) communication unit.

Three astronauts taking the training — Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Shannon Walker and Douglas Wheelock — will be onboard the ISS when Dragon makes its first visit under the COTS programme.

Under the COTS programme, SpaceX will execute three demonstration flights of the Dragon spacecraft.

Dragon will pass in vicinity of, and berth with, the ISS in the second and third COTS missions respectively.

After the demonstration flights, Dragon will fly 12 cargo flights between 2010 and 2015 with at least 20,000kg of payload under a commercial resupply services (CRS) contract.