Moonwalking astronaut-artist Alan Bean dies at 86

American astronaut Alan Bean, who walked on the moon in 1969 during the Apollo 12 mission and commanded a crew on the Skylab space station in 1973 before giving up his career to become a full-time painter, died in Houston on Saturday, officials said.

Bean's paintings depict the moon, astronauts, modules and other elements of America's missions into space.

"When you're getting ready to go to the moon, every day's like Christmas and your birthday rolled into one".

Bean, who was an Apollo 12 astronaut, was one of 12 men to walk on the moon, and his death comes only four months after fellow moon-walker John Young died. He employed color liberally in place of the black, gray, and white of the lunar terrain and the skies.

Bean was born March 15, 1932 in Wheeler, Texas. In 1963, he was selected to join NASA's third group of astronauts.

Bean served as lunar module pilot on Apollo 12. He was fascinated by model planes as a youngster and received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1955 from the University of Texas.

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

In total, Bean logged 69 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes in space, including 31 hours and 31 minutes on the moon's surface, according to NASA.

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In 1998 NASA oral history, Bean recalled his excitement at preparing to fly to the moon.

The three astronauts, all holding the rank of Navy commander, splashed down in the Pacific Ocean only 3 miles from the aircraft carrier Hornet.

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

He retired from the Navy in 1975 but remained with NASA for another six years, overseeing the training of astronauts.

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

Beam is survived by his wife Leslie, sister Paula Stott, and children Amy Sue and son Clay. 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. "I mean, can you think of anything better?"

He said he thought about it often, "and when I look at the moon at night, [I] think about that pin up there, just as shiny as it ever was, and someday maybe somebody will go pick it up".

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

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  • Douglas Reid