Famed Astronaut Alan Bean Dies at 86

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Astronaut Alan Bean, a Wheeler-born astronaut and the fourth man to set foot on the surface of the moon, died Saturday in Houston at the age of 86. Six years later, he piloted the lunar module for the Apollo 12 mission and followed Pete Conrad onto the surface of the moon.

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. His enthusiasm about space and art never waned.

Bean, who was an Apollo 12 astronaut, was one of 12 men to walk on the moon, and his death comes only four months after fellow moon-walker John Young died.

Bean remembered telling a senior NASA official named George Abbey the reason he was leaving the space agency. "[There's] no telling what that costs per minute to be on the moon - millions and millions of dollars - so you wanted to make every one of 'em productive".

Bean was the lunar module pilot of Apollo 12, which made the second moon landing, in 1969. The astronauts on that mission spent 59 days in space, a record at the time.

He was fascinated by model planes as a youngster and received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1955 from the University of Texas.

Bean was a US Navy test pilot prior to being picked by NASA as an astronaut in 1963.

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

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"It looked like fearless people did that. We're really here. That's the Earth up there.' And I said it two or three times to myself".

"I think I would like to be remembered in the end as an astronaut and an artist", Bean told People.

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

"He was a one-of-a-kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter", said Massimino, who flew on two space shuttle missions.

Four years later, Bean returned to space as commander of the second mission to the Skylab orbiting space station. "He said he hoped to capture those experiences through his art". "Fair winds and following seas, Captain", Kelly tweeted.

Astronaut Scott Kelly mourned Bean on Twitter, calling him a "spaceflight pioneer".

She wrote that he was her "hero" and she felt "fortunate to have met him".

"We're saddened by the passing of astronaut Alan Bean. Thank you for letting me stand upon your shoulders". Bean, 86, died on Saturday, May 26, 2018 at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston.

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