Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean dies

Olive Hawkins
May 29, 2018

Alan Bean, the fourth astronaut who walked on the Moon, has died at the age of 86, NASA said in a statement.

Leaving his footprints on a region called the Ocean of Storms, Bean in November 1969 became the fourth man to walk on the moon as one of the astronauts on the second of NASA's lunar landing missions, Apollo 12.

"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 began his aviation career as a fighter pilot for the U.S. Navy before being selected to participate in the test flight program. He and two astronauts, Jack Lousma and Owen Garriott, stayed aloft for 59 days, conducting a variety of biological experiments to test the body's ability to endure the physical and psychological demands of prolonged space flight.

He retired in 1981, beginning a career as a painter, creating Apollo-themed art.

In order to mark the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing in 2009, Bean displayed his paintings of lunar scenes at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

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Alan Bean's "Reaching for the Stars" graces the wall of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Bean was born in Wheeler, Texas, in 1932 and educated at the University of Texas - graduating in 1955.

Seconds after the capsule's liftoff, a lightning strike knocked out its electrical equipment, but its power was quickly restored. All were promoted by President Nixon to the rank of captain.

Bean also commanded the second crewed flight to the first USA space station Skylab in July 1973.

He leaves his second wife, Leslie, a son, Clay, and a daughter, Amy Sue, from his marriage to his first wife, Sue. He used plywood covered by slowly hardening acrylic paste and pounded on that surface with a hammer he had employed on the moon, a way to have his paintings simulate its rugged terrain. One of his favorite tricks was to sprinkle a little moondust from his lunar patches onto his canvases as he painted.

"I'd always wanted to be a pilot, ever since I could remember", Bean said in the 1998 NASA oral history. "My boss asked if I could make a living off art, and I said I didn't know, but I had to find out". "You can't tell how far away things are because there's no atmosphere to bounce the light around".

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