SOUTH POLE, Antartica - Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon in 1969, is being evacuated from the South Pole after his medical condition deteriorated, according to a release by the National Science Foundation.
Aldrin was part of a tourist group visiting Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station through luxury tourism operator White Desert. Although his condition has not been disclosed, a White Desert doctor and the US Antarctic Program doctor decided an evacuation would the best precautionary measure, according to a release from the company. The White Desert doctor said Aldrin's condition was stable. The tourism operator made a request for a medical evacuation to the National Science Foundation today and they agreed.
Aldrin was placed on the first available flight to McMurdo Station, which is located on the Antarctic coast. A US Antarctic Program doctor is traveling with him. The NSF uses cargo planes equipped with landing skis, called LC-130s, and they are operated by the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard.
From there, another flight will take Aldrin to New Zealand. That flight will be scheduled as soon as possible, according to the NSF. Aldrin's family has been notified, and both White Desert and the NSF will provide updates as they come in.
White Desert specializes in Antarctic tours and has operated there for 10 years. They are a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, which was founded in 1991 with the purpose of advocating private-sector travel to the Antarctic that is safe and environmentally responsible. Amundsen-Scott is one of three year-round stations operated by the National Science Foundation in Antarctica.
Researchers there are studying the atmosphere and dark matter using two radio telescopes, as well as an observatory that monitors subatomic particles produced by black holes and other cosmic incidents.
Other medical evacuations have taken place in recent years at Amundsen-Scott and 850 nautical miles away at McMurdo Station. Americans have occupied the South Pole for research purposes since 1956 and Amundsen-Scott was built in 1957 but has been updated and redeveloped over the years.