Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
 / Updated 
By Elizabeth Chuck

Legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin has left the New Zealand hospital he was evacuated to after falling ill during a trip to the South Pole.

"Bye bye New Zealand! Hope to see you again! (But next time for vacation and not evacuation)," Aldrin's manager, Christina Korp, tweeted overnight, along with a photo of Aldrin smiling while sitting on a plane.

Aldrin, 86, was medically evacuated on Dec. 2 while on a tourist trip to Antarctica. His weeklong hospital stay was the result of symptoms of altitude sickness, including shortness of breath, he said.

"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," Aldrin said in a statement. "I really enjoyed my short time in Antarctica and seeing what life could be like on Mars."

Doctors in the Christchurch hospital where Aldrin was flown to were monitoring congestion in his lungs, and planned to release him when it cleared up, his manager said over the weekend.

Related: Buzz Aldrin Gets a Visit From NASA While Recovering in New Zealand Hospital

Seven Corners, the travel insurance company responsible for Aldrin's care, said the astronaut is being flown back to the United States with a medical escort.

Aldrin became the second man to walk on the moon after Neil Armstrong when Apollo 11 made a lunar landing in 1969.

On Thursday, fellow astronaut John Glenn — the first American to orbit the Earth — died at age 95. The two had met each other in 1953, when they were fighting in the Korean War.

Aldrin in a statement reflected on his friend.

"As I sit in hospital and just heard that my friend John Glenn has passed away, I feel fortunate to be recovering from my own illness, but saddened that we lost another space pioneer and world icon," Aldrin said. "He will always go down in history as certainly one of the most influential officers in the Marine Corps and of course as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts. I am very sorry that he has departed us with his wisdom."