Buzz Aldrin flying home after falling ill on South Pole trip

Former US astronaut Buzz Aldrin has been pictured on a plane heading homewards after he was rushed to hospital after falling ill on a expedition to the South Pole.

The Apollo 11 space pioneer was evacuated by plane to New Zealand for urgent medical care after he became ill with altitude sickness and fluid in his lungs on his tourist trip to Antarctica.

The 86-year-old spent a week in hospital - but appeared to be happy and in good health in the photograph shared by his manager Christina Korp.

It is thought that he is now heading back to the US to spend Christmas with his family.

Aldrin had been on the trip to meet scientists who are using the harsh conditions as a basis to study what life on Mars like be like.

In a statement he described feeling short of breath, after which medical checks showed that he had lowed oxygen levels and fluid in the lungs - both indications of altitude sickness.