Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, is medically evacuated from the South Pole after suffering a fluid buildup in his lungs, an issue similar to pneumonia.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was evacuated to Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday evening due to a medical condition that’s not believed life threatening.
He’s being treated at the city’s airport by doctors and at least one person close to him tells CNN there are no immediate worries about his health or recovery. The person requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of Aldrin’s situation. Another source said high carbon dioxide levels might have triggered this evacuation but it is unclear if Aldrin showed any symptoms of having carbon dioxide in his blood system. His condition was described as stable.
Aldrin, 86, had recently written several social media posts about his trip to Antarctica and started posting photos of a sledding excursion on Wednesday. He was visiting the South Pole as part of a tourist group that departed New Zealand last week. Aldrin posted pictures of him using crampons for the trek but never indicated any health problems during the adventure tour. The National Science Foundation said it has been in contact with Aldrin’s team since his evacuation and is working to support his medical care.
In an exclusive interview with CNN from space on Super Bowl Sunday, Aldrin talked about how he got back into shape after two heart surgeries earlier this decade by strapping into a treadmill designed for astronauts and simulating a lunar environment.
“That was rehabilitation to get my heart back into shape so I could go back up in space,” Aldrin said. “And it’s worked very well.”
Aldrin became the second person ever to walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. He followed Neil Armstrong out of the spacecraft and onto the surface, famously calling out, “Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Earlier this year President Trump bestowed upon Aldrin the nation’s highest civilian honor, a moment that brought him to tears during a ceremony at the White House where he called his fellow moonwalker “a pioneering American hero who answered John F. Kennedy’s challenge to send a man to the moon, and then went even further, leading the world to new frontiers.”
The three-time space traveler also developed a passion for art during his travels away from Earth. He writes in his book “No Dream Is Too High” that he started painting in 1995 while living aboard the International Space Station as part of the early space shuttle missions. Today, Aldrin’s paintings sell for six figures and hang in museums around the world.
Aldrin is technically retired from NASA but continues to be involved in projects with the space agency, including serving on advisory boards for Mars exploration efforts. The former test pilot also founded Starcraft Boosters Inc., an aviation company specializing in rocket-powered vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. In 2005 it its test rocket reached an altitude of about 100 feet in a flight over California’s Mojave Desert. He lives year-round in Satellite Beach, Florida.