Alan Bean Dies at 86: The Apollo Moonwalker and Artist

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Astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon, Skylab commander, and famous artist, has completed his last mission on Earth. On 26 May, he died peacefully at the Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Two weeks earlier, he suddenly fell ill as he was traveling in Indiana, in Fort Wayne.

Leslie Bean, his wife for 40 years, said that:

“Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew. He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly. A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him.”

Exploring the Space

Bean was born on 15 March 1932 in Wheeler, Texas. He received the Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering (University of Texas), in 1955. He then started his journey in becoming a pilot, attending the Navy Test Pilot School. While flying 27 different types of aircraft, he accumulated over 5,000 hours of flying.

His hard work was soon repaid by getting selected by NASA in 1963. Later, in 1969, he would fly into space on the Apollo 12 and land on the moon. Then, he was the commander of the crewed flight to the Skylab (1973).

Walt Cunningham flew on Apollo 7 and was Bean’s best friend:

“Alan and I have been best friends for 55 years — ever since the day we became astronauts.” Their friendship would outlast their careers too, continues Cunningham:

“We have never lived more than a couple of miles apart, even after we left NASA. 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.”

“Alan Bean was the most extraordinary person I ever met.” – Mike Massimino

Bean was out into space for 69 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes. On the surface of the moon, he would stay for 34 hours and 31 minutes.

After retiring from the Navy and NASA, Bean found a new way of exploring the world: through his paintings. He recorded his experiences on canvases with lunar boot prints and with his mission patches stained by the moon dust.

Astronaut Mike Massimino finishes his emotional speech about his departed friend and mentor:

“Anyone who had the opportunity to know Alan was a better person for it, and we were better astronauts by following his example.  I am so grateful he was my mentor and friend, and I will miss him terribly.  He was a great man and this is a great loss.”

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere