Alan Bean, moon-walking U.S. astronaut turned painter, dies in Houston

Alan Bean, moon-walking U.S. astronaut turned painter, dies in Houston

Six years later he became the lunar module pilot in the second United States mission to the Moon: Apollo 12.

An official statement has been released by his family members and NASA official about his sudden demise at the age of 86.

Mr Bean's wife Leslie remembered him as "the strongest and kindest man I ever knew", adding: "He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly". Other times, he wanted to discuss items in the description he was writing to go with a painting.

Bean became an accomplished artist after his retirement in 1981, painting scene from his space explorations.

Mr Bean was born in 1932 in Wheeler, Texas, receiving a Bachelor of Science in aeronautical engineering in 1955 and moving on to the Navy Test Pilot School.

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Working at his home in Houston, Bean created paintings that focussed on the Apollo missions, with images of himself and other astronauts on the moon rendered with the authenticity in lighting and colour that only an eyewitness could provide.

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

Bean, a former U.S. Navy test pilot who was part of NASA's third-ever group of astronauts, twice flew to space. Bean is one of only 12 men to have touched the moon's surface. Bean was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12 and also commanded the second crewed mission to Skylab in July of 1973.

With his passing, only four of the twelve men who have walked on the moon are still alive - Buzz Aldrin, Dave Scott, Charlie Duke and Harrison Schmitt.

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

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

Alan Bean's "Reaching for the Stars" graces the wall of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Some of his pieces even integrated moon dust, lunar boot prints and his mission patches.

Bean spent 31 hours on the moon, collecting samples and deploying several experiments with mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr. NPR wrote that Bean was able to look back on NASA's six manned moon landings through the paintings that he completed over a span of more than four decades.

He is survived by his wife Leslie, a sister Paula Stott, and two children from a prior marriage, a daughter Amy Sue and son Clay.

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