Alan Bean, moonwalker turned artist, dies at 86 – Spaceflight Now



WRITTEN HISTORY FOR CBS NEWS AND USED WITH PERMISSION

Former astronaut Alan Bean at his Houston art studio. Credit: Smithsonian Institution

Alan Bean, naval test pilot and astronaut who walked the moon and then spent two months aboard the first US space station before leaving NASA and becoming an accomplished artist, painting landscapes Polka dots and spatial views that got critical recognition died on Saturday. He was 86 years old.

NASA confirmed the death of Bean in a statement from his family, saying that the former astronaut died at the Houston Methodist Hospital after a brief illness.

"Alan was the strongest and friendliest man I've ever met," his wife, Leslie Bean, said in the NASA statement. "He was the love of my life and I miss him so much … Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him."

Bean was one of 12 men who walked on the moon, two on each of the six successful moon landing missions. He is survived by only four moonwalkers: Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot of Apollo 11, Dave Scott, commander of Apollo 15, Charlie Duke, lunar module pilot for Apollo 16, and geologist and former senator from the USA. UU Harrison Schmitt, lunar module pilot for Apollo 17, the last mission of the Apollo moon.

"I was fortunate to be the first artist with the opportunity to be in the center of the action to capture what I saw and felt, and bring it back to Earth to share with the generations to come," Bean wrote in his website

"It's my dream that on the wings of my brush many people see what I saw and feel what I felt, walking in another world about 240,000 miles from my study here on planet Earth. They are beautiful and important art, it is not art from the distant past, but art of our time, we can understand art, an important art for us and our descendants because we were there when the story was made. "

Andrew Chaikin, author of "A Man on the Moon: The Apollo Travels of Astronauts," said that Bean was unique among NASA's Astronaut Board, an accomplished test pilot who also had the talent, and the confidence, to get away from the apex of an extremely successful technical career to devote himself to his art with the same determined devotion that took him to the moon. [19659004] "He was pbadionate about his art, he dedicated all of his later life to NASA to paint and record the Apollo missions as an artist," Chaikin said. "He was very successful, people paid tens of thousands of dollars for his paintings."

Bean also focused singularly, producing custom-made paintings that drew attention in the use of striking colors: red, white, and blue of the American flag, for example, in contrast to the raw black and white environment of the moon.

The fans paid generously for that vision. Bean's website recently listed paintings with price tags that reached half a million dollars.

"What one must understand about Alan Bean is that he is the only artist who has walked on the moon," wrote Tom Hanks on Bean's website. . "No poet has ever been on the lunar surface, nor any journalist, architect or composer." In the field of the arts, Alan Bean has been the only moonwalker who converted the hard data brought from the moon into something more than numbered photographs.

"The images that Al has committed to the canvas, then, are important works of art, inspiring and invaluable, not only has the moon been painted, it has been there."

Alan Bean, pilot of the lunar module Apollo 12 and commander of Skylab. Credit: NASA

Chaikin said that the key to Bean's success, on Earth and beyond, was his focus and intensity.

"What you should know about Alan is my God, he was unique minded," said Chaikin. "He was the most determined and diligent guy I can think of, he got up in the morning with his goal and just did not let go until it was accomplished, and that included teaching himself to be a better artist." He was absolutely relentless in his search to become a better artist. "

In a 1989 interview before the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Bean recalled that he was struggling to understand how Monet, one of his favorite artists, had captured the subtle lighting in a cathedral painting. So Bean flew to Europe, visited the church and spent days, from dawn to dusk, watching the light play in the structure.

"Alan wanted to understand what Monet really saw in front of what he painted," Chaikin said, remembering the story. "He went to the place and sat there at different times of the day, that's the clbadic Alan, he was a perfectionist."

Schmitt recalled Bean's phone calls "to ask about some detail about the lunar soil, the color or the equipment he wanted to represent exactly in a painting." Other times, he wanted to discuss the elements of the description he was writing to go with a painting. "

" His enthusiasm for space and art never diminished, "Schmitt said in the NASA statement. "Alan Bean (was) one of the great renaissance men of his generation: engineer, fighter pilot, astronaut and artist,

Born in Wheeler, Texas, on March 15, 1932, Bean earned a degree in aeronautical engineering before joining the Navy and eventually winning a coveted badignment to the Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Md.

In 1963, he was selected in the third group of NASA astronauts, along with members of the Apollo team 11 Aldrin and Mike Collins, Scott and Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan, the twelfth and final man to walk on the moon.

After serving in backup roles for the Gemini 10 and Apollo 9 missions, Bean was named module pilot. Lunar landing for Apollo 12, the second lunar landing mission Perched on a gigantic Saturn 5 rocket, Bean and his crewmates – Commander Pete Conrad and Richard Gordon – took off on November 14, 19 69.

The rocket was launched in a gloomy climate and 36 seconds after takeoff, lightning struck Saturn 5 followed 16 seconds later with a second hit, wreaking havoc on the on-board electronics. To call it a frightening moment would be to fall short.

"What the hell was that?" Gordon asked as the warning lights went on in the badpit. "I lost a lot of things … I do not know …"

Moments later, Conrad radioed control of the mission in Houston, saying that "we just lost the (orientation) platform, gang. It happened here, we had everything in the abandoned world. "

But the Saturn 5 was in good condition and an alert flight controller, remembering a similar electrical error during training, caused the crew to change the configuration of a switch in the badpit and the screens returned to normal.

Astronaut Alan Bean, pilot of the Apollo 12 lunar module, pauses near a toolholder during the Apollo 12 spacewalk on the surface of the moon. Commander Pete Conrad, who took the black and white photo, is reflected in the viewfinder of Bean's helmet. Credit: NASA

Even without being struck by lightning, Bean's first voyage aboard a rocket left a lasting impression.

"The noise and vibration during the launch were much greater than I expected," he said. "I've piloted many different types of aircraft as a test pilot." When that Saturn 5 began to rumble and spin, it was much more than I ever imagined I thought something was wrong.

"It turned out there was nothing wrong. I remember it as a 10-minute journey over something that was much more powerful and much more energetic and had much more potential than I thought had something that was simply overwhelmed. "

Similarly, the view from orbit. [19659004] "The whole issue of the lunar journey was that each part was more amazing and more science fiction than I imagined it was," he said. "The view of Earth looking back from space, knew what it would be like. But when I actually got there and looked back and saw him sitting there and I realized that all but the three of us were down there, it seemed impossible. It seemed too incredible to be true. The whole mission went that way. "

Four days after launch, Conrad and Bean left Gordon behind in orbit and landed the lunar module Intrepid near the edge of a crater in the Ocean of Storms.

The objective was to demonstrate a precision landing and the crew did just that, exposing a Surveyor robotic spacecraft that landed earlier inside the crater.Bean later broke a famous Bean photo next to the Surveyor spacecraft with Intrepid in the background on the edge of the depression.

The crew expected to send the first live television from the surface during their two lunar rides, but Bean inadvertently pointed the camera towards the sun, knocking him out of action.

"He never got over it. "Chaikin said," He always regretted doing that. "

But memories of Bean's surface remained clear in his mind, with all the clarity that was later reflected In one of those paintings, titled "Celestial Reflections," Bean is shown standing on the moon, his hand on Conrad's shoulder as they both look back at the Earth, which is reflected in their helmets.

"When I touched Pete's shoulder, I thought" Can all the people we know, all the people we love, who we've seen on TV, or read in the newspapers, be all there in that little blue marble and White? "Bean wrote about the painting. [19659004]" The Earth is small but very beautiful. It is easily the most beautiful object we could see from the Moon. It was a wonderful moment. If there is a God in heaven, this must be what he sees when he looks at his children on the good Earth. "

Bean and Conrad spent seven hours and 45 minutes walking on the moon during two excursions, collecting around 75 pounds of the moon rocks and the ground, along with the components of the Surveyor lander, took off on November 20, a day after landing, meeting with Gordon aboard the Yankee Clipper command module for the return trip to Earth.

"Our ascent (from the surface) was six minutes and three seconds," Bean said. "I remember thinking, I hope this engine runs for six minutes and three seconds! You did not have much instrumentation because there was nothing you could do if it were not so. … You life is at stake. If it does not work, you're cooked. "

But it worked, and the crew of Apollo 12 safely returned to Earth, splashing in the Pacific Ocean on November 24, 1969.

NASA would launch another five Apollo missions, But Bean never had another chance to visit the moon, but he had the opportunity to return to space, serving as commander of the crew of the second Skylab space station of three men in 1973, recording a record of 59 days in orbit. Flight at NASA was a substitute for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.

Bean retired from the Navy that same year but continued to serve as head of the Candidate Astronaut Operations and Training Group at Houston's Johnson Space Center before retiring from NASA in 1981 to pursue a full-time painting career.

"His decision was based on the fact that, in his 18 years as an astronaut, he had the dream You must visit worlds and see places of interest, not the eye of the artist, the past or present, you have seen at first hand, "said NASA in a 1993 biography." He hopes to express these experiences through the medium of art. He is pursuing this dream in his home and study in Houston. "

Bean recorded 1,671 hours and 45 minutes in space, including 10 hours and 26 minutes of spacewalk on the moon or Earth's orbit, achieving more than 7,145 flight hours on a variety of aircraft, including 4,850 hours on airplanes.

"I became an astronaut because they flew higher and faster than anything else," Bean said. "So I did not do it to be an explorer." I did it to be a pilot and do these incredible things. flying. "

He is survived by his wife Leslie, his sister Paula Stott and two children from a previous marriage, Amy and Clay.


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