Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, is recovering from altitude sickness after becoming the oldest person to ever reach the South Pole.
His family released a statement over the weekend saying he is recovering fine but that he still has some congestion in his lungs after being at 9,300 feet for several days.
“I started to feel a bit short of breath so the staff decided to check my vitals. After some examination they noticed congestion in my lungs and that my oxygen levels were low, which indicated symptoms of altitude sickness. This prompted them to get me out on the next flight to McMurdo, and once I was at sea level, I began to feel much better. I didn’t get as much time to spend with the scientists as I would have liked, to discuss the research they’re doing in relation to Mars. My visit was cut short and I had to leave after a couple of hours. I really enjoyed my short time in Antarctica and seeing what life could be like on Mars.”
Antarctica’s elevation is due mostly to thick ice sheets stretching high above the actual soil. The low oxygen and extreme temperatures in this location make for an excellent opportunity to study aspects of what it would be like to live on Mars — researchers are there now studying that, and Aldrin had intended to visit them.
Aldrin departed South Africa for the South Pole with his son Andrew on Tuesday, but by Thursday his vital signs were cause for concern as medical personnel noted fluid in his lungs. He was airlifted out, eventually arriving in New Zealand for treatment, where he is currently in recovery.
One of those friends confirmed that Aldrin, 86, is the oldest person to ever reach the South Pole. Tack that onto a resume that made him the second human being to step foot on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.
— Christina Korp (@Buzzs_xtina) December 3, 2016