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Alan Bean, fourth person to walk on the moon, has died

28 May 2018
Alan Bean, fourth person to walk on the moon, has died

She said that Bean, a native Texan, died peacefully while surrounded by his loved ones.

"Alan Bean is one of the great renaissance men of his generation - engineer, fighter pilot, astronaut and artist".

His wife of 40 years, Leslie Bean, said in a statement: 'Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew.

In October 1963, Bean became one of 14 trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts.

In 1973, Bean was spacecraft commander of the second manned mission to Skylab, the first USA space station. "Alan and I never missed a month where we did not have a cheeseburger". He and crew mate Pete Conrad explored the moon's surface and conducted experiments while Richard Gordon orbited overhead in the command module, scouting landing sites for future moon missions. Bean also commanded the second crewed flight to Skylab, America's first space station, in 1973. For more than four decades after his space career, he chronicled the six missions that landed on the moon.

The flight of Apollo 12, while thrilling in its own right, was not almost as dramatic as the pioneering mission of Apollo 11, but it resulted in a more extensive exploration of the moon.

Reflecting on his experience, Bean once said: "I remember once looking back at Earth and starting to think, Gee, that's attractive.' Then I said to myself, 'Quit screwing off and go collect rocks.' We figured reflection wasn't productive".

In total, Bean spent 69 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes in space, including 31 hours and 31 minutes on the moon.

Bean was born on March 15, 1932, in Wheeler, Texas, and grew up in Fort Worth.

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?" But I want it to be the most handsome black dirt that's ever been painted in the history of art.

Bean was widely respected as a pilot and astronaut but was equally known as a space-themed artist.

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".

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.