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Published: Tue, May 29, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Apollo Moonwalker and artist Alan Bean dies at 86

Apollo Moonwalker and artist Alan Bean dies at 86

"He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly", Alan's wife Leslie, to whom he was married for 40 years, said in the statement. "A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him".

He went into space twice, the first time in November 1969 as the lunar module pilot on the Apollo 12 Moon-landing mission.

On Nov. 19, 1969, Bean, together with Apollo 12 commander Charles "Pete" Conrad, landed on the Ocean of Storms and became the fourth human to walk on the Moon. Shortly after takeoff, the rocket was hit by lightning but the crew was able to continue the scheduled flight to the Moon.

Four years later, Bean returned to space as commander of the second mission to the Skylab orbiting space station.

On that mission, he orbited the Earth for 59 days.

"There is an evident sincerity, diligence, and restraint, coupled with a momentous subject that the artist clearly knows intimately, but he does not exploit or sensationalize", Roberta Smith wrote in The Times in June 2009, in a review of the paintings on Mr. Bean's website. He even worked with "Star Trek" actress Nichelle Nichols on outreach efforts to prospective astronauts.

"Retired astronaut Clayton Anderson tweeted "#RIP Alan Bean.

Bean became an accomplished artist after his retirement in 1981, painting scene from his space explorations.

Bean remembered telling a senior NASA official named George Abbey the reason he was leaving the space agency.

He said he thought about it often, "and when I look at the moon at night, [I] think about that pin up there, just as shiny as it ever was, and someday maybe somebody will go pick it up". His first comment: 'Can you earn a living at that?'. After leaving NASA, the former astronaut devoted himself to painting. His paintings sold for tens of thousands of dollars apiece.

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.

Back in 1998, Mr Bean described his preparation for the moon landing as "Christmas and your birthday rolled into one", adding: "I mean, can you think of anything better?" "And for most of the other guys, most of the things they think about come from the left side".

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. Inspired to become a pilot, he started flight training at age 17.

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