Apollo Moonwalker and artist Alan Bean dies at 86

28 May, 2018, 04:19 | Author: Tara Reeves
  • Apollo Moonwalker and artist Alan Bean dies at 86

Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon and one of only 12 to have set foot there, died at 86 on Saturday, according to a statement on NASA's website.

He went into space twice, the first time in November 1969 as the lunar module pilot on the Apollo 12 moon-landing mission.

Bean served as lunar module pilot on Apollo 12.

"Most of my colleagues were really surprised", he told PEOPLE at the time.

He retired from the Navy in 1975 and NASA in 1981.

"Alan Bean was the most extraordinary person I ever met", astronaut Mike Massimino told NASA.

"I'd always wanted to be a pilot, ever since I could remember", said Bean in the 1998 NASA oral history. Before starting each painting, he would spend weeks studying photographs and videos, and calling fellow astronauts to probe their memories.

Alan Bean (R), pictured in November 1969 with his fellow United States astronauts of Apollo 12, Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr.

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For the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11's moon landing, Bean exhibited his paintings of lunar scenes at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington. His paintings sold for tens of thousands of dollars apiece.

FILE PHOTO: Retired Astronaut Alan Bean, 66, poses for a portrait in his spacesuit at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, U.S., in this undated photo.

Born March 15, 1932, in Wheeler, Texas, Bean received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas in 1955.

A test pilot in the U.S. Navy, Bean was one of 14 trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts in October 1963.

Seconds after the capsule's liftoff, a lightning strike knocked out its electrical equipment, but its power was quickly restored. Eventually, Bean and Conrad spent more than 31 hours on the moon's surface, including more than seven hours working outside of the lunar module. During the then-record-setting 59-day, 24.4 million-mile flight, Bean and his two crewmates generated 18 miles of computer tape during surveys of Earth's resources and 76,000 photographs of the Sun to help scientists better understand its affects on the solar system.

Much like his former career as an astronaut, Bean spent his years as an artist creating detail-oriented moonscapes, which could be tricky to get just right.

He leaves his second wife, Leslie, a son, Clay, and a daughter, Amy Sue, from his marriage to his first wife, Sue.

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