Fourth person to walk on moon, Alan Bean dies

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FILE PHOTO: Astronaut Alan L. Bean holds a Special Environmental Sample Container filled with lunar soil collected during the Apollo 12 mission in this NASA handout photo provided November 19, 1969.

A decade later, Bean told me that his brain must have been wired differently from the norm for astronauts.

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

"I just say it how I think it, even though other people will say, 'That's weird, ' because it's from the other side of the brain", he said.


On his retirement from NASA in 1981 he started turning out works that incorporated moon dust and Apollo memorabilia in the paintings. He attended the Navy Test Pilot School and accumulated more than 5,500 hours of flying time in 27 different types of aircraft. As NASA noted in its release, "He devoted his time to creating an artistic record of humanity's first exploration of another world. I thought maybe I could learn to be, so that appealed to me".

"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.

Bean served as a test pilot in the U.S. Navy, and was among 14 trainees who were selected by NASA in 1963 for its third group of astronauts - after the Mercury Seven and the New Nine.

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


With Bean's passing, only four of 12 Apollo moonwalkers are still alive - Buzz Aldrin, Dave Scott, Charlie Duke and Harrison Schmitt.

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

Mike Massimino, who flew on two space shuttle missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope, remembered Mr Bean as "extraordinary". He flew into space on his first mission in 1969 aboard the Apollo 12 on NASA's second moon landing. His trips to space prompted his surprise turn of career.

He is survived by his wife, sister and two children from a prior marriage.


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