Famed Astronaut Alan Bean Dies at 86

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Officials say American astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth person to walk on the moon in 1969 during the Apollo 12 mission, died on Saturday.

Bean died at the Houston Methodist Hospital after becoming sick two weeks ago, according to a statement from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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 USA space station Skylab in 1973. "When I became head of the Skylab Branch of the Astronaut Office, we worked together and Alan eventually commanded the second Skylab mission".

Retired Astronaut Alan Bean 66 poses for a portrait in his spacesuit at the Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas U.S
Image Alan Bean was the fourth man to walk on the moon

After Apollo 12, Bean commanded Skylab's second crew on a record-setting 59 day, 24.4 million flight, generating 76,000 images of the Sun to help scientists understand its effects on the solar system.

The astronaut spent a total of 1,671 hours and 45 minutes in space.

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

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"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 in Wheeler, Texas, in 1932 and educated at the University of Texas - graduating in 1955.

Bean retired from the Navy in 1975 and NASA in 1981.

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In October 1963, Bean became one of 14 trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts. "I think a lot of it just had to do with it looked exciting".

With Bean's death, only four moonwalkers are still alive - Buzz Aldrin, Dave Scott, Charlie Duke and Harrison "Jack" Schmitt. "Alan and I never missed a month where we did not have a cheeseburger". Some of his pieces even integrated moon dust, lunar boot prints and his mission patches. "He was a one of a kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter".

Beam is survived by his wife Leslie, sister Paula Stott, and children Amy Sue and son Clay. He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly'.

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