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News Release 16-074

Antarctic medical evacuation planes reach British station at Rothera

Flight to the South Pole depends on favorable weather

Rothera, the British Antarctic Survey station.


Rothera, the British Antarctic Survey station on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Credit and Larger Version


June 20, 2016

Two Twin Otter aircraft flying an Antarctic medical-evacuation mission have arrived at Rothera, a British Antarctic Survey station on the Antarctic Peninsula, where they will now await favorable weather to fly the roughly 1,500 miles to the National Science Foundation's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

At Rothera, the aircrews will prepare the aircraft, including equipping them with skis for a landing on snow and ice at the pole. Once the forecast is favorable, one plane will fly to the pole to evacuate an ailing member of the station's winter crew, the other will remain at Rothera to provide search-and-rescue capability, as needed. 

It is possible that the evacuation flight will bring a second patient out of Antarctica. That decision still is pending.

After comprehensive consultation with outside medical professionals, agency officials previously decided that a medical situation at Amundsen-Scott warrants returning one member of the station's winter crew to a hospital that can provide a level of medical care that is unavailable at the station.

That patient is seasonally employed through the Lockheed Martin Antarctic Support Contract, the prime contract for operations and research support contractor to NSF for the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). NSF is not releasing any further personal or medical information to preserve patient privacy.

For more background information, please read this previous NSF news release.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Peter West, NSF, (703) 292-7530, pwest@nsf.gov

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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