Astronaut and moonwalker Alan Bean dies at 86

AFP  Getty Images

AFP Getty Images

"Alan Bean is one of the great renaissance men of his generation - engineer, fighter pilot, astronaut and artist".

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

His Apollo-themed paintings featured canvases textured with lunar boot prints and were made using acrylics embedded with small pieces of his moon dust-stained mission patches.

In 1973, he commanded the second crewed flight to the first USA space station, orbiting the Earth for 59 days and travelling 24.4 million miles - one of 11 world records he set in the fields of space and aeronautics. I am so grateful he was my mentor and friend, and I will miss him terribly. Eventually, Bean and Conrad spent more than 31 hours on the moon's surface, including more than seven hours working outside of the lunar module.

He twice ventured into space, originally in 1969 on the Apollo 12 moon landing mission, and later as commander of the second crew to fly to the first U.S. space station Skylab in 1973.

"I said, 'I'm going to be an artist, '" Bean recalled.

Over the course of that third career, Bean created more than 100 paintings that he said marked "the beginning of a new category in the progression of art history: art of human experiences off our home planet".

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

After retiring from the Navy in 1975 and NASA in 1981, respectively, Bean became an artist and focused his energy on painting artistic impressions of the moon landing.

Back in 1998, Mr Bean described his preparation for the moon landing as "Christmas and your birthday rolled into one", adding: "I mean, can you think of anything better?" "The other half, the ones that were more right-brain, thought it was a pretty good idea". "I've got the Earth and my imagination, and I'm the first to have the moon, too".

With Bean's death, only four moonwalkers are still alive - Buzz Aldrin, Dave Scott, Charlie Duke and Harrison "Jack" Schmitt.

Bean was born on March 15, 1932 in Wheeler, Texas. Bean is one of only 12 men to have touched the moon's surface.

Beam is survived by his wife Leslie, sister Paula Stott, and children Amy Sue and son Clay. "We're really here. That's the Earth up there.' And I said it two or three times to myself".

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