Friday, 17 August, 2018

Alan Bean, astronaut and moonwalker, dies at 86

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Sherry Houston | 29 May, 2018, 16:30

The astronaut spent a total of 1,671 hours and 45 minutes in space. There are now only four men alive who have ever been on the moon, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, David Scott, Charles Duke, Jr., and Harrison "Jack" Schmitt. "He was a one of a kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter".

His decision in 1981 to give up his NASA career to become a full-time artist surprised some of his colleagues.

Mr. Bean returned to space in July 1973, when he commanded a three-man flight to the orbiting space research station Skylab, the forerunner of the International Space Station.

He became the fourth human to walk on the moon during the Apollo 12 mission in November 1969, exploring Oceanus Procellarum alongside the late astronaut Pete Conrad.

Born March 15, 1932 in Wheeler, Texas the future moonwalker earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas in 1955. He depicted his imagination by showing lunar boot prints and small pieces of his mission patches, covered with moon dust. "My boss asked if I could make a living off art, and I said I didn't know, but I had to find out".

He trained as a Navy test pilot under Conrad, who years later during their astronaut days played a key role in getting Bean designated for the Apollo 11 mission.

In 1994 Bean told The New York Times the otherworldly perspectives he got in space inspired him to devote the latter half of his life to art, to the surprise of many of his colleagues.

US astronaut Karen Nyberg called Bean a kind, gracious and humble man and a true role model. Kelly added: "Fair winds and following seas, Captain". "Thank you for letting me stand upon your shoulders".

"I feel blessed every day when I'm working on these paintings... the first artist to ever go to another world and try to tell stories that people care about", Bean said, commenting about the passion he focused on after leaving NASA. Bean, 86, died on Saturday, May 26, 2018 at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston.

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

Leslie Bean, his wife of 40 years, reflected on their time together in a joint statement released by NASA.

Associated Press Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this article.

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