Astronaut and Moonwalker Alan Bean dies at 86

Former Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, who was the fourth man to walk on the moon and then turned to painting to chronicle the moon landings on canvas, has died. He was 86 years old.

Bean was the pilot of the lunar module for the second moon landing mission in November 1969. He spent 31 hours on the moon during two alpine walks, deploying surface experiments with Major Charles Conrad and collecting 75 pounds (34 kilograms) of rocks and lunar soil to study on Earth, according to a statement from NASA and the Bean family that announced his death.

Bean died Saturday in Houston, Texas, after a brief illness, the statement said.

"As all great explorers are, Alan was a boundary pusher," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement crediting Bean as part of 11 world records in the areas of space and aeronautics. "We will remember him fondly as the great explorer who came to embrace the universe."

With the death of Bean, only four of the twelve Apollo moonwalkers are still alive: Buzz Aldrin, Dave Scott, Charlie Duke and Harrison Schmitt. [19659002] Schmitt, the pilot of the lunar module for Apollo 17, was one of the many astronauts who mourned Bean's death and paid tribute on Saturday to his achievements that opened paths for future space exploration.

"His enthusiasm for space and art never diminished, he is one of the great renaissance men of his generation: engineer, fighter pilot, astronaut and artist," Schmitt said in a statement, adding that the great variety of lunar samples that Bean helped to collect from the moon was "a scientific gift that continues to give today and in the future."

In 1998, the oral history of NASA, Bean recalled his emotion as he prepared to fly to the moon .

"When you're getting ready to go to the moon, every day is like Christmas and your birthday is rolled in. I mean, can you think of anything better?" Bean said.

After Apollo, Bean commanded the second flight with crew to the first United States space station, Skylab, in 1973. In that mission, he orbited the Earth for 59 days and traveled 24.4 million miles, establishing a world record at the moment.

Born March 15, 1932, in Wheeler, Texas, Bean received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas in 1955. He attended the Navy Test Pilot School and was one of 14 apprentices selected by NASA for his third group of astronauts in October 1963.

"I always wanted to be a pilot, since I could remember," said Bean at NASA's 1998 oral history. "I think a lot of that just had to do with what seemed exciting, it seemed like brave people did it, I wanted to be brave, even though I was not brave at the time, I thought maybe I could learn to be, so that attracted me "

Bean retired from NASA in 1981 and devoted much of his time to creating an artistic record of space exploration.

His Apollo themed paintings feature textured canvases with traces of lunar boots and embedded with small pieces of mission patches stained with lunar dust.

"Alan Bean was the most extraordinary person I have ever met," astronaut Mike Mbadimino, who flew two space shuttle missions to the Hubble service "It was a unique combination of technical achievements as an astronaut and an artistic achievement as a painter" .

Many fellow Space Explorers published tributes to Bean on Twitter.

] US retired astronaut Scott Kelly said the world had not only lost "a space travel pioneer … but also an exceptional artist who brought his experience to Earth to share with the world." Kelly added: "Fair winds and seas, Captain."

As American, the ronauta Karen Nyberg called Bean a kind, courteous and humble man and a true role model.

"As a girl who grew up with pbadions for space flights and art, Alan Bean was my hero," he wrote. "I feel lucky to have met him."

Retired astronaut Clayton Anderson tweeted "#RIP Alan Bean, thank you for letting me be on your shoulders."

Bean's wife for 40 years, Leslie Bean, said in a statement that Bean died peacefully at Houston Methodist Memorial Hospital surrounded by those who loved him.

"Alan was the strongest and friendliest man I've ever met," he said. "He was the love of my life and I miss him so much"

He is survived by his wife, a sister and two children from a previous marriage, a daughter Amy Sue and her son, Clay.


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