Moonwalking astronaut-artist Alan Bean dies at 86

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Bean flew into space twice, first in November 1969 as the pilot of Apollo 12, when he became the fourth man to walk on the moon, nabbing the honor behind Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Pete Conrad, who served as the commander of Apollo 12.

The fourth man to walk on the moon, Alan Bean (in 2008), has died at age 86, following a sudden illness. She added he died "peacefully. surrounded by those who loved him".

He trained as a Navy test pilot under Conrad, who years later during their astronaut time played a crucial role in getting Bean designated for the Apollo mission. His wife of 40 years, Leslie Bean, said in the statement that, "Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew".

Said Bridenstine: "After logging 1,671 hours and 45 minutes in space, Alan passed the baton to the next generation of astronauts and changed fronts, looking to push the boundaries of his own imagination and ability as an artist". He was one of 14 trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts in October 1963. "I'd say 60 percent of them thought maybe I was having a midlife crisis", Mr. Bean recalled in his book "Apollo" (1998), written with Andrew Chaikin, in which he reproduced many of his paintings.

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"I think I would like to be remembered in the end as an astronaut and an artist", Bean told People.

Bean also commanded the second crewed flight to the first USA space station Skylab in July 1973.

"A lot of things I think about come from the right side of my brain", he said in 2007.

Many of Mr. Bean's fellow astronauts were evidently taken aback by his choosing the art world over private business. "He was a one of a kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter".

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On his retirement from NASA in 1981 he started turning out works that incorporated moon dust and Apollo memorabilia in the paintings.

USA astronaut Karen Nyberg called Bean a kind, gracious and humble man and a true role model. And for years, Alan and I never missed a month where we did not have a cheeseburger together at Miller's Café in Houston.

In addition to his wife Leslie, Alan is survived by his sister Paula Stott and two children from a prior marriage, daughter Amy Sue and son Clay. For more than four decades after his space career, he chronicled the six missions that landed on the moon.

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