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Alan Bean, Fourth Man to Walk on the Moon, Dies at 86

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Apollo 12's lunar module  NASA

Alan Bean the fourth astronaut to walk on the moon before becoming a painter died Saturday at the age of 86 in Texas.

His family said he had fallen ill two weeks ago in IN and died peacefully at a hospital in Houston.

He became the fourth human to walk on the moon during the Apollo 12 mission in November 1969, exploring Oceanus Procellarum alongside the late astronaut Pete Conrad. He then commanded the second crewed flight to the first U.S. space station, Skylab, in 1973. On that mission, he orbited the Earth for 59 days and traveled 24.4 million miles, setting a world record at the time.

They spent about 7 hours and 45 minutes completing two moonwalks in which they deployed instruments to study the moon's geology, installed a nuclear generator to power future experimental equipment and collected an extensive assortment of moon rocks.

His wife of 40 years, Leslie Bean, said in a statement that Bean died peacefully surrounded by those who loved him.

After leaving NASA, the former astronaut devoted himself to painting.

Retired Astronaut Alan Bean, 66, poses for a portrait in his spacesuit at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, U.S., in this undated photo.

Alan Bean on the moon
Bean there done that. NASA

Bean was born in Wheeler, Texas, in 1932 and educated at the University of Texas - graduating in 1955.

Bean's passing means only four of the 12 Apollo moonwalkers are still alive, with a string of lunar landing anniversaries due to begin next year.

Mr. Bean developed his interest in painting while taking art courses early in his Navy career.

"I remember once looking back at Earth and starting to think, 'Gee, that's attractive.' 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.

United States Navy Captain Alan Bean became an astronaut in 1963. Anyone who had the opportunity to know Alan was a better person for it, and we were better astronauts by following his example. "I think a lot of it just had to do with it looked exciting".

"Alan Bean once said 'I have the nicest life in the world, ' " Bridenstine said in a statement.

His Apollo-themed paintings feature canvases textured with lunar boot prints and embedded with small pieces of his moon dust-stained mission patches. He is survived by his wife, sister and two children from a prior marriage.

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