Fourth US Astronaut to Walk on Moon Has Died

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"Bean was spacecraft commander of Skylab Mission II & devoted his retirement to painting", NASA wrote on social media Saturday.

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

"I feel blessed every day when I'm working on these paintings... the first artist to ever go to another world and try to tell stories that people care about", Bean said, commenting about the passion he focused on after leaving NASA.

His paintings drew on his recollections, interviews with fellow astronauts, photos, and videos.

Bean, a former U.S. Navy test pilot who was part of NASA's third-ever group of astronauts, twice flew to space.

Schmitt paid tribute to Bean on Saturday, calling him "one of the great Renaissance men of his generation - engineer, fighter pilot, astronaut and artist".

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.

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On November 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.

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

He obtained a commission in Navy aviation and after completing test-pilot school was selected by NASA as one of 14 new astronauts in October 1963.

He trained as a Navy test pilot under Conrad, who years later during their astronaut days played a key role in getting Bean designated for the Apollo 11 mission.

"Alan Bean was the most extraordinary person I ever met", astronaut Mike Massimino, who flew on two space shuttle missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope, said in a statement.

Bean was born on March 15, 1932, in Wheeler, Texas, and grew up in Fort Worth. "He was a one of a kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter". His paintings, inspired by space travel, featured lunar boot prints as well as small pieces of his mission patches which were stained by Moon dust. His trips to space prompted his surprise turn of career.

Bean is survived by his wife Leslie; two children from a previous marriage, Amy Sue and Clay; and sister Paula Scott.

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