HOUSTON (FOX 26) - NASA shared the following obituary on behalf of former astronaut Alan Bean’s family:
Apollo and Skylab astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth human to walk on the Moon and an accomplished artist, has died.
Bean, 86, died on Saturday, May 26, at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. His death followed his suddenly falling ill while on travel in Fort Wayne, Indiana two weeks before.
“Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew. He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly,” said Leslie Bean, Alan Bean’s wife of 40 years. “A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him.”
A test pilot in the U.S. Navy, Bean was one of 14 trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts in October 1963. He flew twice into space, first as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, the second moon landing mission, in November 1969, and then as commander of the second crewed flight to the United States’ first space station, Skylab, in July 1973.
On Nov. 19, 1969, Bean, together with Apollo 12 commander Charles “Pete” Conrad, landed on the Ocean of Storms and became the fourth human to walk on the Moon. During two moonwalks Bean helped deploy several surface experiments and installed the first nuclear-powered generator station on the Moon to provide the power source. He and Conrad inspected a robotic Surveyor spacecraft and collected 75 pounds (34 kilograms) of rocks and lunar soil for study back on Earth.
On the Skylab mission, Bean orbited the Earth for 59 days. He spent a total of 69 days in space, including 31 hours on the moon.
Born on March 15, 1932, in Wheeler, Texas, Bean received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas in 1955. He attended the Navy Test Pilot School and was one of 14 trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts in October 1963.
"I'd always wanted to be a pilot, ever since I could remember," said Bean in the 1998 NASA oral history. "I think a lot of it just had to do with it looked exciting. It looked like brave people did that. I wanted to be brave, even though I wasn't brave at the time. I thought maybe I could learn to be, so that appealed to me."
"As all great explorers are, Alan was a boundary pusher," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a statement that credited Bean with being part of 11 world records in the areas of space and aeronautics. "We will remember him fondly as the great explorer who reached out to embrace the universe."
"Alan Bean was the most extraordinary person I ever met," said astronaut Mike Massimino, who flew on two space shuttle missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope, in a statement. "He was a one-of-a-kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter."
Associated Press Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this article.