Published: Mon, May 28, 2018
Research | By Derrick Holloway

Alan Bean, 4th Person to Walk on the Moon, Dies at 86

Alan Bean, 4th Person to Walk on the Moon, Dies at 86

They were busy, but, as Bean recalled during a 2016 NPR interview, "as I ran along, I remember. saying to myself, 'You know, this is really the moon. He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly", said his wife, Leslie, in NASA's statement. She added he died "peacefully. surrounded by those who loved him".

Apollo 12, the second manned lunar landing mission, was launched on 14th November 1969, with astronauts Conrad, Bean and Richard Gordon on board. Shortly after takeoff, the rocket was hit by lightning but the crew was able to continue the scheduled flight to the Moon.

"In total, Bean logged 69 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes in space", the obituary said, "including 31 hours and 31 minutes on the moon's surface".

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In 1973, Bean was spacecraft commander of the second manned mission to Skylab, the first US space station.

On the Skylab mission, Bean orbited the Earth for 59 days.

Alan Bean, pictured in 2007, walked on the moon and later became an artist who created Apollo-themed paintings. He even worked with "Star Trek" actress Nichelle Nichols on outreach efforts to prospective astronauts.

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United States Navy Captain Alan Bean became an astronaut in 1963.

But in 1981, he gave up his NASA career to become a full-time artist. "My boss asked if I could make a living off art, and I said I didn't know, but I had to find out".

"When Alan's third career as the artist of Apollo moved forward, he would call me to ask about some detail about lunar soil, color or equipment he wanted to have represented exactly in a painting". Before starting each painting, he would spend weeks studying photographs and videos, and calling fellow astronauts to probe their memories. His paintings sold for tens of thousands of dollars apiece.

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The three astronauts who preceded Alan Bean to the moon's surface were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11 in July 1969, and Charles Conrad who was also on the Apollo 12 mission.

"I think I would like to be remembered in the end as an astronaut and an artist", Bean told People. "And for most of the other guys, most of the things they think about come from the left side".

Bean was born on March 15, 1932, in Wheeler, Tex., and completed high school in Fort Worth. After earning a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Texas Austin, he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

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Bean's passing means only four of the 12 Apollo moonwalkers are still alive, with a string of lunar landing anniversaries due to begin next year.

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