The National Science Foundation announced Thursday morning that it would provide a “humanitarian medical evacuation flight” from the South Pole for an “ailing” Buzz Aldrin. No further information was given as to his condition.
Aldrin, 86, was the second man to walk on the moon, joining Neil Armstrong in the Apollo 11 Lunar Module in July 1969. He has since become an author and advocates crewed missions to Mars.
Aldrin posted on Twitter on Tuesday that he was headed to the South Pole:
The NSF’s statement said an NSF plane would fly Aldrin from the Amundsen-Scott research station at the South Pole to McMurdo Station on the Antarctic coast. At that point, ski-equipped LC-130 cargo planes flown by the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard will take him to New Zealand “as soon as possible.”
White Desert, the company handling Aldrin’s trip, posted this statement on its website:
A White Desert client, Buzz Aldrin, has been evacuated from South Pole. Mr Aldrin was visiting the Pole as part of a tourist group and while there his condition deteriorated. As a precaution, following discussion between the White Desert doctor and the US Antarctic Program (USAP) doctor, Mr Aldrin, accompanied by a member of his team, was evacuated on the first available flight out of the South Pole to McMurdo with the USAP under the care of a USAP doctor. His condition was described as stable upon White Desert doctor’s hand-over to the USAP medical team.
White Desert would like to express their gratitude to USAP at this time for their support.
His family have been informed of the situation. This flight is still in progress and there will be further updates when additional information is available.
It’s the start of summer in Antarctica, when travel to Amundsen-Scott is relatively routine, if not cheap or easy.
During the winter, researchers at Amundsen are much more sealed off from the world. Only three emergency evacuations have ever been attempted during those harsh, dark months, most recently this past June.
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