Buzz Aldrin, the former astronaut, has been evacuated from the South Pole where he was visiting as part of a tourist group.
In a statement, White Desert, the tour company, said Aldrin’s “condition deterioriated” while on the visit. “As a precaution, following discussion between the White Desert doctor and the U.S. Antarctic Program,” Aldrin “was evacuated on the first available flight out of the South Pole to McMurdo” under the care of a doctor.” The company said he was in stable condition when he was transfered to the medical team.
The McMurdo station is the U.S. Antarctic Program’s research center.
On Thursday night (local time, as U.S. stations in Antarctica adhere to New Zealand time), the National Science Foundation agreed to provide medical evacuation from the South Pole for the 86-year-old Aldrin, who in 1969 became one of the first people to walk on the moon.
The medical evacuation flight was provided by the National Science Foundation, according to a news release on the government agency’s website. The statement did not offer a reason for the evacuation, only referring to Aldrin as “ailing.”
“NSF will make additional statements about the patient’s medical condition only as conditions warrant,” the statement read.
“Ski-equipped LC-130 cargo planes flown by the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard provide the air bridge between the South Pole and McMurdo. The flight to New Zealand will be scheduled as soon as possible,” it read.
On Aldrin’s Twitter account, the former astronaut has recently posted several photographs of himself preparing to travel to Antarctica, including one on Tuesday showing him outside an airplane with the caption “South Pole here I came!”
Another, posted on Tuesday, read “We’re ready to go to Antarctica! May be our last opportunity to tweet for a few days! We’re go for departure to the launchpad!”
Finally another, from Sunday, included a joke: “I could be a little underdressed for Antarctica. Although I tend to be hot blooded.”
Aldrin was born in Montclair, N.J. as Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr. He earned the nickname “buzz” because his sister pronounced the word “brother” as “buzzer,” according to CNN.
In 1969, Aldrin, along with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, flew to the moon on the Apollo 11 mission. He became the second person to walk on the moon, after Armstrong.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Travis M. Andrews