Astronaut Alan Bean, Who Once Walked On The Moon, Passes Away at 86

Saturday, 26 May 2018 - 3:22PM
Space
Moon
NASA
Saturday, 26 May 2018 - 3:22PM
Astronaut Alan Bean, Who Once Walked On The Moon, Passes Away at 86
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NASA
Alan Bean, an Apollo astronaut and artist who counted himself among the very few humans to ever walk on the Moon, has passed away this Saturday, May 26, after a sudden illness at the Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas. He was 86 years old.

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.




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:

Opening quote
"Alan and I have been best friends for 55 years - ever since the day we became astronauts. When I became head of the Skylab Branch of the Astronaut Office, we worked together and Alan eventually commanded the second Skylab mission. 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."
Closing quote





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.

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