Astronaut and moonwalker Alan Bean dies at 86

Astronout Alan Bean died Saturday after becoming ill two weeks earlier, NASA announced Saturday. Six years later he became the lunar module pilot in the second U.S. mission to the Moon: Apollo 12.

Mr. Bean returned to space in July 1973, when he commanded a three-man flight to the orbiting space-research station Skylab, the forerunner of the International Space Station. On that mission, he orbited the Earth for 59 days and traveled 24.4 million miles, setting a world record at the time.

He spent 31 hours on the moon deploying surface experiments with commander Charles Conrad and collecting 75 pounds (34 kilograms) of rocks and lunar soil for study back on Earth, according to a statement from NASA.

Alan Bean, the fourth human to walk on the moon, has died.

Bean was born in 1932, in Wheeler, Texas, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas in 1955. "But I want it to be the most attractive black dirt that's ever been painted in the history of art".

He was among the elite group NASA chose for its third group of astronauts in 1963, having served as a test pilot in the US Navy.

With Bean's passing, only four of 12 Apollo moonwalkers are still alive - Buzz Aldrin, Dave Scott, Charlie Duke and Harrison Schmitt.

Alan Bean
Astronaut and moonwalker Alan Bean dies at 86

Walt Cunningham, fellow astronaut who flew on Apollo 7, said the two have remained friends for 55 years.

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

"Alan Bean once said 'I have the nicest life in the world, ' " Bridenstine said in a statement.

"I just say it how I think it, even though other people will say, 'That's weird, ' because it's from the other side of the brain", he said.

After retiring from the Navy in 1975 and NASA in 1981, respectively, Bean became an artist and focused his energy on painting artistic impressions of the moon landing.

His Apollo-themed paintings feature canvases textured with lunar boot prints and embedded with small pieces of his moon dust-stained mission patches.

Beam is survived by his wife Leslie, sister Paula Stott, and children Amy Sue and son Clay.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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