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Buzz Aldrin: Altitude sickness forced South Pole evacuation

Former NASA Astronaut and Apollo 11 pilot Buzz Aldrin testifies on space exploration during the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation's Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competiveness hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, February 24, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — Buzz Aldrin says he was evacuated from the South Pole last week because he became short of breath and began showing signs of altitude sickness.

The 86-year-old adventurer, who was the second man to walk on the moon, released details on Sunday of his dramatic medical evacuation from Antarctica. He is continuing to recuperate in a hospital in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Because of the thick ice that blankets Antarctica, the South Pole sits at an elevation of 2,835 meters (9,300 feet).

Aldrin said in a statement he still has some congestion in his lungs and so has been advised to rest in New Zealand until it clears up and to avoid the long flight back to the U.S. for now.