The Washington Post
The National Science Foundation has agreed to provide medical evacuation from the South Pole for 86-year-old Buzz Aldrin, a former astronaut who in 1969 became one of the first people to walk on the moon.
The medical evacuation flight will be provided by the National Science Foundation, according to a news release on the government agency’s website. The statement did not offer a reason for the evacuation, only referring to Aldrin as “ailing.”
“NSF will make additional statements about the patient’s medical condition only as conditions warrant,” according to the statement dated Thursday.
The statement also did not state when the evacuation will occur. It merely stated how.
“Ski-equipped LC-130 cargo planes flown by the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard provide the air bridge between the South Pole and McMurdo. The flight to New Zealand will be scheduled as soon as possible,” it read.
It is unclear why Aldrin was in Antarctica, though the release stated that the NSF received the evacuation request from The Antarctic Company, which is a private tourism firm based in South Africa.
On Aldrin’s Twitter account, the former astronaut has recently posted several photographs of himself preparing to travel to Antarctica, including one on Tuesday showing him outside an airplane with the caption “South Pole here I came!”
Another, posted on Tuesday, read “We’re ready to go to Antarctica! May be our last opportunity to tweet for a few days! We’re go for departure to the launchpad!”
Finally another, from Sunday, included a joke: “I could be a little underdressed for Antarctica. Although I tend to be hot blooded.”
Aldrin was born in Montclair, N.J. as Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr. He earned the nickname “buzz” because his sister pronounced the word “brother” as “buzzer,” according to CNN.
In 1969, Aldrin, along with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, flew to the moon on the Apollo 11 mission. He became the second person to walk on the moon, after Armstrong.