Alan Bean, U.S. astronaut and moonwalker, dies in Houston at 86

Rodiano Bonacci
Mag 27, 2018

Apollo and Skylab astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon and an accomplished artist, died Saturday at a hospital in Houston, Texas.

Bean's death followed a sudden illness that befell him two weeks earlier during a trip to Fort Wayne, Ind., for a school fundraising event.

His first mission to space was in November 1969 as a member of the Apollo 12 crew, the second to land on the moon, it said.

NASA said Bean was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963.

"Alan Bean was the most extraordinary person I ever met", astronaut Mike Massimino, who flew on two space shuttle missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope, said in a statement.

Astronaut Alan Bean and Leslie Bean attend the premiere of "In The Shadow Of The Moon" on September 5, 2007 at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. "He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly", said Leslie Bean, Alan Bean's wife of 40 years.

"Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew". Anyone who had the opportunity to know Alan was a better person for it, and we were better astronauts by following his example.

After Apollo, Bean commanded the second crewed flight to the United States' first space station, Skylab, in 1973. He and his commander Charles "Pete" Conrad collected 75 pounds of rocks and lunar soil for studies back on Earth. And for years, Alan and I never missed a month where we did not have a cheeseburger together at Miller's Café in Houston.

Apollo 17's Harrison Schmitt, the only professional scientist to walk on the moon, praised the contribution that Bean and Conrad made to lunar geology.

He retired from the Navy in 1975 and NASA in 1981.

"I would say I had zero philosophical thoughts at that time", Bean told NPR of his time on the moon in 2014. "I think a lot of it just had to do with it looked exciting". The four are Apollo 11's Buzz Aldrin, 88; Apollo 15's Dave Scott, 85; Apollo 16's Charlie Duke, 82; and Apollo 17's Harrison Schmitt, 82.

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