‘Ailing’ man on the moon Buzz Aldrin did final prep for Antarctic trip in Cape Town

01 December 2016 - 15:36 By Andre Jurgens

Retired US astronaut Buzz Aldrin‚ who is being medically evacuated from the South Pole‚ spent a few days in Cape Town before his departure for Antarctica on Tuesday.

Preparations are underway for an emergency air evacuation of the famous 86-year-old space exploration evangelist.

Aldrin flew to the moon on the Apollo 11 space mission in 1969 with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins. He was the second person to walk on the moon‚ after Armstrong.

The Antarctic Company‚ a private firm based in Cape Town which organises adventure trips to the frozen continent‚ has asked the National Science Foundation (NSF) - which manages the US Antarctic Program - to arrange the mercy flight. Details of his medical condition have not been revealed‚ other than a confirmation by the NSF on Thursday that he is “ailing”.

Aldrin posted several snippets on social media about his preparations for this week’s trip while he was in Cape Town. His final post on social media‚ on Tuesday‚ said: “South Pole here I come! #antarctica #WhiteDesert #GYATAntarctica”. He was standing in front of a Russian Iljushin 76 aircraft used to ferry passengers and cargo between Cape Town and Antarctica in a trip that takes about eight hours.

Christina Korp‚ the high-flying octogenarian’s manager and “mission control director” tweeted a picture of him inside the aircraft just before take-off. “We're really going!! Feels like a dream but South Pole here we come! #Antarctica‚” she said.

“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‚” tweeted Aldrin.

During his stay in Cape Town‚ he took time out to visit Table Mountain‚ posing for a selfie in the cable car. “From Table Mountain it's all downhill from here. (Til we get to the South Pole)”‚ he wrote on Wednesday on his Facebook page.

On Tuesday‚ he was trying out cold weather gear. “My mission director Christina seems to think it'll be a bit colder in Antarctica than I do apparently‚” he posted. “I could be a little underdressed for Antarctica. Although I tend to be hot-blooded‚” he posted alongside a photo of him in a t-shirt while trying on thick gloves.

Aldrin flew from Dubai to Cape Town on Saturday‚ posing in the cockpit for a picture – as he frequently does on his global travels - with the crew of an Emirates Airline jet.

“We're in good hands with Carl‚ Cornelis & George at the helm flying us to Cape Town on this @emirates 777. It's a go for takeoff from Dubai!” he said.

The next day he attended a safety briefing ahead of the trip to Antarctica.

The Antarctic Company offers custom trips to Antarctica ranging from three to 10 days for small groups of travellers. It runs a guesthouse complex called Oasis‚ situated about 14 kilometres away from a blue ice runway in a rocky area known as the Schirmacher Oasis.

Company director Vasily Kaliazin told TMG Digital on Thursday that Aldrin had gone to the South Pole but he was unaware of details about his evacuation.

– TMG Digital

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