Alan Bean, Apollo 12 Astronaut And Fourth Man On The Moon, Is Dead: He Was 86
Alan Bean, the fourth human to ever walk on the moon, died in Houston, Texas on Saturday, May 26. He was 86.
The legendary Apollo and Skylab astronaut passed away after getting sick while traveling Fort Wayne, Indiana two weeks prior to his death.
A Space Icon And Extraordinary Artist
After getting selected from the U.S. Navy, Bean carved out an impressive career with NASA consisting of two trips to space.
The first time was as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12 for the second moon landing in 1969. During this mission, he earned the title of the fourth man to walk on the moon. He also helped set up the first nuclear-powered generator station as well as a couple of surface experiments.
Harrison Schmitt, the Apollo 17 lunar module pilot, praised Bean and Apollo 12 commander Charles "Pete" Conrad for their dedication to their mission, saying that the duo's collection of lunar samples is "a scientific gift" that continues to be extremely vital for scientists.
Bean also became commander of the second crewed flight to Skylab, the United States' first space station, in 1973.
After retiring from the Navy and NASA, he became a dedicated artist, creating Apollo-themed paintings that featured special touches such as lunar boot prints and pieces of mission patches with specks of moon dust.
"While he captured these great scenes from history, and scenes that never could be captured by a camera, and only in painting, he would also basically sprinkle them with moon dust," Robert Z. Pearlman, space history specialist, explains to BBC.
Family, Friends On Alan Bean
The astronaut, dubbed by NASA as an "Apollo moonwalker and artist," is survived by his wife of 40 years Leslie Bean, two children from a previous marriage, and his sister Paula Stott.
"Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew," Leslie says. "He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly."
She adds that her husband, "a native Texan," died peacefully with his loved ones around him.
His colleagues also offered insight on the man behind the legend, particularly Walt Cunningham, who was part of the Apollo 7 team and has been best friends with Bean for 55 years.
"We have never lived more than a couple of miles apart, even after we left NASA," Cunningham shares. "And for years, Alan and I never missed a month where we did not have a cheeseburger together at Miller's Café in Houston. We are accustomed to losing friends in our business but this is a tough one."
Mike Massimino, astronaut, calls him the "most extraordinary person," praising his technical and artistic achievements.
"As all great explorers are, Alan was a boundary pusher. Rather than accepting the limits of technology, science, and even imagination, he sought to advance those lines - in all his life's endeavors," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine adds in a statement.