Astronaut Alan Bean, Who Once Walked On The Moon, Passes Away at 86
As the lunar module pilot for the Apollo 12 mission back in 1969, Bean was the fourth human to ever walk on the Moon, following Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin from Apollo 11 and his mission commander Pete Conrad. Bean spent 31 hours exploring and working on the "Ocean of Storms" plains on the Moon's surface, collecting samples of lunar rocks and checking on the Surveyor 3 module which had landed two years prior.
He later returned to space in 1973, as the commander of the second crewed mission to SkyLab, the United States' first space station. SkyLab remained operational until 1979, after which it would be almost 20 years before the International Space Station became operational.
We're saddened by the passing of astronaut Alan Bean. The fourth person to walk on the Moon, he spent 10+ hours on the lunar surface during Apollo 12. Bean was spacecraft commander of Skylab Mission II & devoted his retirement to painting. Family release: https://t.co/bX8eXNQlSq pic.twitter.com/NJPQULjGlw— NASA (@NASA) May 26, 2018
After he returned to Earth, he eventually went on to become an artist, having taken night classes during his days as a Navy test pilot and wanting to work on his art full time. Much of his artwork involved representing what it's like to be on the Moon, and he frequently used actual lunar dust in his paintings, and other astronauts would recall him asking about their own lunar voyages to help with his artwork.
So far, he's the only artist to have ever walked on the Moon. Out of the 12 people who've ever been the Moon, four are now currently still alive - Buzz Aldrin, David Scott, Charles Duke, and Harrison Schmitt. Astronaut John Young, the ninth person to walk on the Moon, also passed away earlier this year.
Fellow astronaut Walt Cunningham, who flew on the Apollo 7 mission, said the following in an official statement from NASA on Bean's passing:
We mourn the passing of aviator, astronaut, and first artist on another world, Alan Bean. His paintings brought the desolate beauty of the Ocean of Storms back to Earth, to inspire new explorers and visionaries for generations to come. pic.twitter.com/aXHF3FSPjw— SmithsonianAirSpace (@airandspace) May 26, 2018
Including his 31 hours on the Moon, Bean spent 69 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes in space before retiring from his astronaut career. He's survived by his wife Leslie Bean, his sister Paula Stott, and his two children Amy Sue and son Clay.