Published: Tue, May 29, 2018
Sci-tech | By Lila Blake

Astronaut and moonwalker Alan Bean dies at 86

Astronaut and moonwalker Alan Bean dies at 86

On that mission, he lived and worked on board the Skylab, orbiting the Earth for 59 days, traveling 24.4million miles.

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

"I feel blessed every day when I'm working on these paintings... the first artist to ever go to another world and try to tell stories that people care about", Bean said, commenting about the passion he focused on after leaving NASA.

"I wanted to be courageous, even though I wasn't fearless at the time".

Bean retired from the Navy in 1975, and from NASA in 1981. He attended the Navy Test Pilot School and was one of 14 trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts in October 1963. "I thought maybe I could learn to be, so that appealed to me".

For the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11's moon landing, Bean exhibited his paintings of lunar scenes at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

In 1973 he was commander of the second crewed flight to Skylab - America's first space station.

Alan Bean (R), pictured in November 1969 with his fellow U.S. astronauts of Apollo 12, Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr. There are now only four men alive who have ever been on the moon, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, David Scott, Charles Duke, Jr., and Harrison "Jack" Schmitt.

Astronaut Mike Massimino described Bean as "the most extraordinary person I ever met".

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.

Alan Bean's "Reaching for the Stars" graces the wall of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

According to NPR, Bean's paintings didn't just look at NASA's manned moon missions with "painstaking detail", as he also used actual moon dust and ground-up Apollo spacecraft debris as materials for his paintings.

Over the course of that third career, Bean created more than 100 paintings that he said marked "the beginning of a new category in the progression of art history: art of human experiences off our home planet". "My boss asked if I could make a living off art, and I said I didn't know, but I had to find out".

In addition to his wife, Leslie, Alan Bean is survived by a sister, Paula Stott; and two children from a previous marriage, Amy Sue Bean and Clay Bean.

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