Published: Tue, May 29, 2018
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

Alan Bean, moon-walking astronaut and artist, dies aged 86

Alan Bean, moon-walking astronaut and artist, dies aged 86

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

In 1998 NASA oral history, Bean recalled his excitement at preparing to fly to the moon.

"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. "We're really here. That's the Earth up there.' And I said it two or three times to myself".

Following his retirement from NASA in 1981, Bean dedicated his time to depicting space exploration through works of art.

Mr Bean was born in 1932 in Wheeler, Texas, receiving a Bachelor of Science in aeronautical engineering in 1955 and moving on to the Navy Test Pilot School. In 1963, he was selected to join NASA's third group of astronauts.

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.

Astronaut Alan Bean poses for a portrait in front of a mockup of NASA's lunar module in advance of his Apollo 12 moon mission in 1969.

Mr. Bean stepped onto the lunar surface preceded by Pete Conrad, the mission commander of their Apollo 12 flight, in November 1969, four months after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first lunar explorers.

"I would say I had zero philosophical thoughts at that time", Bean told NPR of his time on the moon in 2014. That "fantastic suite of lunar samples" is "a scientific gift that keeps on giving today and in the future", Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 lunar module pilot and the only geologist to walk on the moon, said in the statement.

"He was a one-of-a-kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter", said Massimino, who flew on two space shuttle missions.

The Apollo 12 mission started with a shakeup.

Retired astronaut Scott Kelly said on Twitter that the world had not only lost "a spaceflight pioneer. but also an exceptional artist that brought his experience back to Earth to share with the world".

"We're saddened by the passing of astronaut Alan Bean".

In addition to his wife, Leslie, Alan Bean is survived by a sister, Paula Stott; and two children from a previous marriage, Amy Sue Bean and Clay Bean.

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