Vasaloppet accompanies Swedish astronaut Marcus Wandt to space
In January 2024, the plan is for Marcus Wandt to embark on his first space trip. The Mora-born astronaut has both a Vasaloppet number bib and Vasaloppet medal packed for the journey to the International Space Station (ISS).
"I like achievements and challenges and I've been skiing since I could walk. Bringing something from Vasaloppet felt obvious," says Marcus Wandt.
A Vasaloppet analogy often comes up for how many laps around the Earth (1,405) and how many round trips to the moon (73) correspond to the distance that all Vasaloppet skiers have covered in the 99 races held since 1922. But in January 2024, the Vasaloppet journey will literally go to space for the first time.
”It was a bit of a surprise to receive the call from the European Space Agency (ESA). But a cross-coutry skiing astronaut born in Mora; of course, he should bring something from Vasaloppet on his first space journey. It feels very fun and honourable,” says Camilla Sandy Swarén, Press Contact at Vasaloppet.
For understandable reasons, any objects included in the luggage couldn’t be too bulky and NASA approval was required earlier this summer. Now, both a Vasaloppet medal and a number bib are packed, waiting for Marcus Wandt’s mission with Axiom Mission 3 to start at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in January.
”I’m really looking forward to everything about this trip,” says Marcus Wandt, who is currently in intense training at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne.
”I’ve always enjoyed skiing, and bringing something from Vasaloppet felt like excellent timing, since we just celebrated 500 years since Gustav Vasa was elected king of Sweden.”
Marcus Wandt, who was born in Mora but only lived there for a few months before moving, has not participated in any Vasaloppet races so far. But the plan is to change that. Since the space journey takes place in January, it’s too tight to prepare for participation in the 100th Vasaloppet on Sunday, March 3, 2024. However, it might happen as early as the winter of 2025.
”Marcus Wandt would then be the first astronaut to ski Vasaloppet. Christer Fuglesang participated in Vasaloppet’s Vasastreak 2022 where he demonstrated push-ups, but he has not participated in a race so far,” says Camilla Sandy Swarén.
Both the Vasaloppet medal and number bib will be donated back to Vasaloppet after their stay in space.
Facts Marcus Wandt
Born: September 22, 1980, in Mora. Grew up in Hammarö and lives in Linköping.
Background: Marcus is a former paratrooper and combat pilot with an electrical engineering degree from Chalmers University of Technology. He has also completed the Officers’ Programme at Karlberg and is the chief test pilot for Gripen at Saab. In November 2022, he was selected from over 22,500 applicants for a new astronaut group with a total of 17 astronauts.
Currently: Sweden’s next astronaut. In January 2024, Marcus Wandt will travel to the International Space Station, ISS. Axiom Space is organizing the trip (Ax-3) in collaboration with the US space agency NASA and SpaceX. The crew also includes Michael López-Alegría (USA), Walter Villadei (Italy), and Alper Gezeravci (Turkey). The stay aboard the space station will be up to 14 days.
Social media: Instagram @esaastro_marcus @europeanspaceagency
More information: https://www.rymdstyrelsen.se/
Since 1922, 624,559 Vasaloppet skiers have crossed the finish line after completing Vasaloppet (90 km); put together over the 99 races, they have covered a distance equivalent to 1,405 laps around the Earth or 73 round trips to the moon.
Vasaloppet upcoming events
Vasaloppet’s Winter Week 2024 – cross country skiing
- Friday, February 23, Vasaloppet 30, start Oxberg, 30 km
- Saturday, February 24, Tjejvasan, start Oxberg, 30 km
- Sunday, February 25, Öppet Spår Sunday, start Sälen, 90 km
- Sunday, February 25, Ungdomsvasan, start Eldris, 9 km, start Hökberg, 19 km
- Monday, February 26, Öppet Spår Monday 90, freestyle, start Sälen, 90 km
- Monday, February 26, Öppet Spår Monday 45, freestyle, start Evertsberg, 43 km
- Monday, February 26, Öppet Spår Monday 30, freestyle, start Oxberg, 28 km
- Tuesday, February 27, Vasaloppet 45, start Oxberg, 45 km
- Friday, March 1, Stafettvasan, ski relay, five sections start Sälen, 90 km
- Friday, March 1, Nattvasan 30, individually or two-person teams, freestyle, start Oxberg, 30 km
- Friday, March 1, Nattvasan 45, individually or two-person teams, freestyle, start Oxberg, 45 km
- Friday, March 1, Nattvasan 90, individually or two-person teams, freestyle, start Sälen, 90 km
- Saturday, March 2, Vasaloppet 10, freestyle, start Eldris, 9 km
- Sunday, March 3, The 100th Vasaloppet, start Sälen, 90 km (Fully booked)
Vasaloppet’s Summer Week 2024 – biking and running
- Friday, August 9 Ungdomscykelvasan start Oxberg, 32 km
- Friday, August 9 Cykelvasan Öppet Spår start Sälen, 96 km
- Friday, August 9 Cykelvasan 30 start Oxberg, 32 km
- Friday, August 9 Cykelvasan 45 start Oxberg, 45 km
- Saturday, August 10 Cykelvasan 90 start Sälen, 96 km
- Friday, August 16 Trailvasan 10 start Mora, 10 km
- Saturday, August 17 Ultravasan 90 start Sälen, 92 km
- Saturday, August 17 Vasastafetten running relay, ten legs, start Sälen, 92 km
- Saturday, August 17 Ultravasan 45 start Oxberg, 45 km
- Saturday, August 17 Trailvasan 30 start Oxberg, 30 km