Published: Mon, May 28, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Alan Bean, 4th man on the moon, dies aged 86

Alan Bean, 4th man on the moon, dies aged 86

The flight of Apollo 12, while thrilling in its own right, was not almost as dramatic as the pioneering mission of Apollo 11, but it resulted in a more extensive exploration of the moon. For more than four decades after his space career, he chronicled the six missions that landed on the moon. The astronauts on that mission spent 59 days in space, a record at the time.

In 1981, after logging more than 25 million miles of spaceflight, he retired at the age of 49 as head of the NASA astronaut training group to become an artist.

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

"Every artist has the Earth or their imaginations to inspire their paintings", Mr. Bean told The New York Times in 1994. And it got me in trouble at NASA at first. Before starting each painting, he would spend weeks studying photographs and videos, and calling fellow astronauts to probe their memories.

During the Apollo 12 mission, Bean walked on the moon alongside Charles "Pete" Conrad, who died in July 1999 at age 69. "And the sky is always black".

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For the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11's moon landing, Bean exhibited his paintings of lunar scenes at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington. "Together we made an impossible dream come true", Bean wrote on his website.

FILE PHOTO: Retired Astronaut Alan Bean, 66, poses for a portrait in his spacesuit at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, U.S., in this undated photo.

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

Bean was a Navy test pilot before being selected to become an astronaut in 1963.

Seconds after the capsule's liftoff, a lightning strike knocked out its electrical equipment, but its power was quickly restored. Bean and Conrad spent more than 31 hours on the lunar surface, including more than seven hours working outside of the module.

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He also has been a football coach for seventh-graders for two years. "An extraordinary story for another day", he said. She also noted specifically where he was shot: once through the abdomen, once in the hip, and once in the forearm.


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

Since then, he became a successful painter, turning his experiences with NASA into works of art.

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.

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

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