Science

Apollo 12 Astronaut Alan Bean Dies

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HOUSTON — Apollo 12 lunar module pilot and Skylab 2 mission commander Alan L. Bean died May 26 at Houston Methodist Hospital at the Texas Medical Center. The former U. S. Navy test pilot and artist noted for his vivid depictions of early human spaceflight was 86.

Bean had been hospitalized following a sudden illness he experienced during a trip to Fort Wayne, Ind., two weeks ago, according to a statement from his family. "A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him," the statement said.

Bean was a born in Wheeler, Tex., in the state's panhandle. A graduate of the University of Texas in aeronautical engineering, he was commissioned in the Navy upon graduation in 1955. After four years of active duty as an attack pilot, he was selected for Navy test pilot training.

Bean was one of 14 men selected as NASA's third group of astronauts in October 1963. He joined Apollo 12 commander Charles "Pete" Conrad and Richard Gordon, the command module pilot, as the crew of the second U. S. moon lander mission. As the pilot of the lunar module pilot Intrepid, Bean became the fourth man to walk on the moon, joining Conrad for two walks after they touched down on the moon's Ocean of Storms on Nov. 19, 1969.

Bean launched a second time on July 28, 1973 as commander of the Skylab II. The then record-setting 59-day flight on the small space station with Jack Lousma and Owen Garriott landed Bean on the cover of Aviation Week & Space Technology.

Bean retired from the Navy in 1975 and NASA in 1981. In retirement, he much of his time at his Houston home and its art studio expressing his experiences with brush, paint and canvas.

"When Alan's third career as the artist of Apollo moved forward, he would call me to ask about some detail about lunar soil, color or equipment he wanted to have represented exactly in a painting," said Harrison Schmitt, a member of the Apollo 17 crew, the last of the lunar lander missions, and a geologist. "Other times, he wanted to discuss items in the description he was writing to go with a painting. His enthusiasm about space and art never waned. Alan Bean is one of the great renaissance men of his generation: engineer, fighter pilot, astronaut and artist."

Survivors include Leslie, Bean's wife of 40 years, a sister, Paula Stott, and two children from a prior marriage, daughter Amy Sue, and son Clay. Details on funeral services were not immediately available.

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