Moonwalker and space exploration advocate Buzz Aldrin is recovering in hospital with fluid in his lungs after being hastily evacuated by air from the South Pole.
The 86-year-old former astronaut – famous for being the second man to set foot on the moon in 1969 – flew as part of a tourist group to the remote‚ frozen continent this week from Cape Town. But his condition deteriorated and an urgent appeal was made to the National Science Foundation (NSF)‚ which manages the US Antarctic Program‚ to carry out an emergency medical evacuation.
Tour operator White Desert‚ which had hosted Aldrin on the trip‚ said in a statement that the evacuation was carried out successfully and that he had been admitted to a hospital in New Zealand.
“He currently has fluid in his lungs but is responding well to antibiotics and is being kept overnight for observation. His condition is stable and his manager‚ who is currently with him‚ described him being in good spirits‚” it said.
“After a gruelling 24 hours we’re safe in New Zealand‚” tweeted his manager Christina Korp.
“As @TheRealBuzz is recovering I did want to let people know that he did make it to the South Pole which was his objective. Thnx for prayers‚” she added‚ along with photographs of him walking on the ice.
Aldrin spent the early part of this week preparing for the tip and doing some sightseeing in Cape Town. He took a trip up Table Mountain and posed for photographs alongside the aircraft that flew the tourists to Antarctica.
On July 20‚ 1969‚ he and Neil Armstrong made the historic Apollo 11 moon landing. The landing was watched by an estimated 600 million people which‚ at the time‚ was the largest television audience in history.