Former United States astronaut Buzz Aldrin was evacuated from the South Pole on Thursday after taking ill, his tour company White Desert said. The 86-year-old, who was the second man to walk on the moon in 1969, was with a private tourist group. The National Science Foundation, which runs the US Antarctic Program, said it had provided a “humanitarian medical evacuation flight” for an “ailing” Aldrin.

He was taken from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to McMurdo Station, a US-run research centre in the Antarctic. He will be flown to New Zealand, the NSF said.

A statement by White Desert said his “condition deteriorated”, and he was evacuated as a precaution, after discussions between the company’s doctor and the US Antarctic Program’s medical professionals. His condition was stable when he was handed over to medical team, the company added.

Aldrin, along with Neil Armstrong, became the first humans to land on the moon on July 21, 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 space expedition. He set foot on the satellite after Armstrong. After leaving the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in 1971, he became an officer in the US air force.