Astronaut Alan Bean Dies at 86

Astronaut Alan Bean Dies at 86

The Apollo astronaut and the fourth man to walk on the moon, Alan Bean has died at age 86.

His family said in a statement that Bean, who was the fourth person to walk on the moon, died in Houston on Saturday, two weeks after falling ill while traveling.

His first mission to space was in November 1969 as a member of the Apollo 12 crew, the second to land on the moon, it said.

He retired from the Navy in 1975 and NASA in 1981.

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.

Bean's paintings depict the moon, astronauts, modules and other elements of America's missions into space.

Born March 15, 1932 in Wheeler, Texas the future moonwalker earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas in 1955.

They spent about 7 hours and 45 minutes completing two moonwalks in which they deployed instruments to study the moon's geology, installed a nuclear generator to power future experimental equipment and collected an extensive assortment of moon rocks.

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.

Many of Mr. Bean's fellow astronauts were evidently taken aback by his choosing the art world over private business.

In 1998 NASA oral history, Bean recalled his excitement at preparing to fly to the moon. "I mean, can you think of anything better?" He was one of 14 trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts in October 1963.

"I think of myself not as an astronaut who paints", he added, "but as an artist who was once an astronaut". Kelly added: "Fair winds and following seas, Captain".

"As a girl who grew up with passions for spaceflight and art, Alan Bean was my hero", she wrote.

"I remember once looking back at Earth and starting to think, 'Gee, that's handsome.' Then I said to myself, 'Quit screwing off and go collect rocks.' We figured reflection wasn't productive", Alan Bean was quoted as saying by People magazine in 1981. "I feel fortunate to have met him".

Alan Bean is survived by his wife Leslie, a sister and two children from a previous marriage. "He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly", Bean's widow, Leslie Bean, said in a statement. I am so grateful he was my mentor and friend, and I will miss him terribly.