Moonwalker and space artist Alan Bean dies


Bean was the fourth person to walk on the moon and spent over 10 hours on the lunar surface during Apollo 12.

During the two moonwalks Bean helped destroy several surface experiments and installed the first nuclear-powered generator station on the moon to provide the power source.

Bean, 86, died on Saturday, May 26, at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. He flew twice into space, first as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, the second moon landing mission, in November 1969, and then as commander of the second crewed flight to the United States' first space station, Skylab, in July 1973.

Bean became an accomplished artist after his retirement in 1981, painting scene from his space explorations.

"Alan Bean once said 'I have the nicest life in the world.' It's a comforting sentiment to recall as we mourn his passing", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a press release. He served as backup astronaut for the Gemini 10 and Apollo 9 missions.

Bean was born on March 15, 1932 in Wheeler, Texas.

Working from his home in Houston, Mr. Bean strove for accuracy in presenting the astronauts' gear and the prevailing light, but his paintings often conveyed a sense of what it was like to work on the moon rather than replicating an exact moment.

NASA said Bean was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963.

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"Alan and I have been best friends for 55 years - ever since the day we became astronauts", said Walt Cunningham, who flew on Apollo 7. "But I've been there and I can tell you it's mostly black dirt".

"Alan Bean was the most extraordinary person I ever met", astronaut Mike Massimino told NASA.

"A lot of things I think about come from the right side of my brain", he said in 2007. "He was a one of a kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter".

Retired U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly said 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".

USA astronaut Karen Nyberg called Bean a kind, gracious and humble man and a true role model.

His wife of 40 years, Leslie Bean, said in the statement he died peacefully surrounded by those who loved him. And for years, Alan and I never missed a month where we did not have a cheeseburger together at Miller's Café in Houston.

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