Apollo Moonwalker Alan Bean dies at 86 after illness

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Bean, who passed away at Houston Methodist after battling a short illness, was a lunar module pilot on Apollo 12 in 1969, the second manned flight to land on the moon.

Many of his fellow astronauts were evidently taken aback by his choosing the art world over private business.

Born on March 15, 1932, in Wheeler, Texas, Bean was a test pilot in the US Navy when NASA selected him and 13 others in October 1963 for training to become the third group of NASA astronauts, according to the family obituary shared by the space agency.

But he gave it up because "the more I thought about it, the more I realized there were young men and women at NASA in the astronaut office that could fly the shuttle as good as I could or better, but I was the only one interested in trying to do this other job". And it got me in trouble at NASA at first. But it wasn't until Apollo 12 that he flew in space. He earned a degree in aeronautical engineering at the University of Texas, then was commissioned as a US Navy officer.

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

Bean spent 31 hours on the moon, collecting samples and deploying several experiments with mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr.

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Conrad died in a motorcycle accident in 1999; Gordon died in 2017.

He was 86 years old. The paintings sometimes included footprints from a molding of the boots he wore on the moon along with pieces of his spacesuit patches and a sprinkling of their moondust residue.

Alan Bean's "Reaching for the Stars" graces the wall of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. 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.

"I remember once looking back at Earth and starting to think, 'Gee, that's handsome.' Then I said to myself, 'Quit screwing off and go collect rocks.' We figured reflection wasn't productive", Alan Bean was quoted as saying by People magazine in 1981.

"I think of myself not as an astronaut who paints, but as an artist who was once an astronaut", wrote Bean in his 1998 book Apollo written with Andrew Chaikin.

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