Buzz Aldrin’s South Pole adventure turned into a medical emergency when his health deteriorated, but his manager says the Apollo 11 moonwalker is safe today in a New Zealand hospital.
The 86-year-old’s health declined during a tour of Antarctica, an adventure travel firm called White Desert said in a statement today.
Aldrin was handed over to the National Science Foundation for a medical airlift. The first leg of the outward trip took Aldrin from NSF’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to McMurdo Station on Ross Island, aboard a ski-equipped LC-130 cargo plane from the New York Air National Guard. He was flown from McMurdo to Christchurch, New Zealand, aboard a Safair cargo plane, NSF said.
White Desert said Aldrin was taken to a Christchurch hospital, where he was found to have fluid in his lungs. The travel firm said he was “responding well to antibiotics and being kept overnight for observation.”
“His condition is stable, and his manager, who is currently with him, described him being in good spirits,” White Desert said.
Aldrin’s manager, Christina Korp, tweeted a couple of selfies showing Aldrin being treated. “After a grueling 24 hours we’re safe in New Zealand,” she wrote. Korp said more information was available on Aldrin’s website, BuzzAldrin.com, which was slammed by a surge in data traffic.
— Christina Korp (@Buzzs_xtina) December 1, 2016
The detailed diagnosis wasn’t released, but the South Pole is considered a high-altitude environment that poses a risk for respiratory problems. That could explain the fluid in the lungs.
Aldrin is arguably the most traveled of the surviving Apollo astronauts. This month he went through a grueling series of trips to Australia, California, Florida, Washington, D.C., Texas, Dubai and South Africa – all documented on his Twitter account, @therealbuzz.
He was one of the first humans to walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, accompanying Neil Armstrong to the surface while Michael Collins flew above in the Columbia command module.
When Armstrong passed away in 2012 at the age of 82, Aldrin said he was “deeply saddened.”
“I had truly hoped that on July 20th, 2019, Neil, Mike and I would be standing together to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our moon landing. … Regrettably, this is not to be,” Aldrin said.
Here’s hoping that Aldrin is standing, hale and hearty, when the golden anniversary is celebrated.