An evacuation flight rescuing astronaut Buzz Aldrin from the South Pole after he became ill with fluid in his lungs has safely landed in New Zealand, according to statement on his website.
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.
Here's the full statement published on Aldrin's website:
The evacuation flight for Buzz Aldrin has successfully landed at Christchurch, New Zealand and he has been transferred to hospital for examination. He is currently has fluid in his lungs but is responding well to antibiotics and being kept in overnight for observation. His condition is stable and his manager, who is currently with him, described him being in good spirits.
We would like to offer our sincere thanks to the team at the American National Science Foundation for accommodating Buzz and his manager on one of their flights from the South Pole to New Zealand via McMurdo.
There will be further updates when additional information is available.
A post to Aldrin's Twitter account also showed the lunar explorer in a hospital bed, smiling for the camera.
Official statement about Buzz and his evacuation from the South Pole. He's recovering well in NZ. Full statement https://t.co/OacRI4577Z pic.twitter.com/QdrEaHuQHq
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 posted on Twitter on Tuesday that he was headed to the South Pole as part of a tourist trip:
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 medial 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.