Apollo moonwalker, artist Alan Bean dies at age 86 in Houston

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Apollo and Skylab astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon and an accomplished artist, died Saturday at a hospital in Houston, Texas. Six years later, he piloted the lunar module on Apollo 12, the second moon landing mission, and walked on the moon's surface with fellow astronaut Charles Conrad.

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

Bean began his aviation career as a fighter pilot for the U.S. Navy before being selected to participate in the test flight program. He, along with two other astronauts spent 59 days in space for the mission setting a then record.

Bean retired from the Navy in 1975 and NASA in 1981. His paintings have been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington and have sold to collectors for well in excess of $100,000.

Alan Bean, pictured in 2007, walked on the moon and later became an artist who created Apollo-themed paintings.

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.

Seconds after the capsule's liftoff, a lightning strike knocked out its electrical equipment, but its power was quickly restored.

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Bean spent 69 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes in space, including 31 hours and 31 minutes on the moon's surface. Bean is also the fourth NASA moonwalker to pass away in the last two years, following Edgar Mitchell in 2016, Eugene Cernan in 2017, and John Young in January of this year. All were promoted by President Nixon to the rank of captain. Six years later he became the lunar module pilot in the second United States mission to the Moon: Apollo 12.

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.

Mr. Bean developed his interest in painting while taking art courses early in his Navy career. One of his favorite tricks was to sprinkle a little moondust from his lunar patches onto his canvases as he painted.

"You know, people romanticize the moon", Mr. Bean wrote in his book.

"I'd always wanted to be a pilot, ever since I could remember", Bean said in the 1998 NASA oral history. "I think everyone can do more than one thing with his life".

"I would say I had zero philosophical thoughts at that time", Bean told NPR of his time on the moon in 2014.