Astronaut Alan Bean, 4th man on the moon, dies at age 86

Posted May 27, 2018

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

"Alan Bean is one of the great renaissance men of his generation - engineer, fighter pilot, astronaut and artist", Schmitt said in a statement, adding that the wide array of lunar samples Bean helped collect from the moon was "a scientific gift that keeps on giving today and in the future".

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.

In November 1969, he was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, the second Apollo mission to successfully land on the moon.

After retiring from NASA, he became an artist.

He trained as a Navy test pilot under Conrad, who years later during their astronaut time played a crucial role in getting Bean designated for the Apollo mission. He served as backup astronaut for the Gemini 10 and Apollo 9 missions.

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

Alan Bean spent 69 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes in space prior to his retirement in 1981.

"I would say I had zero philosophical thoughts at that time", Bean told NPR of his time on the moon in 2014.

They were busy, but, as Bean recalled during a 2016 NPR interview, "as I ran along, I remember. saying to myself, 'You know, this is really the moon".

He was one of 14 people chosen by NASA for astronaut training in October 1963.

Astronaut-artist Alan Bean speaks at the 2009 opening of an exhibit titled "Alan Bean: Painting Apollo, First Artist on Another World" at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

In all, 24 people have flown to the Moon and 12 have set foot on it, according to Nasa.

"A lot of things I think about come from the right side of my brain", he said in 2007.

A decade later, Bean told me that his brain must have been wired differently from the norm for astronauts. "He was a one of a kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter".

Fellow astronaut Karen Nyberg described him as a kind, gracious and humble man.

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".

She wrote that he was her "hero" and she felt "fortunate to have met him". He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly'.