Alan Bean, moon-walking astronaut and artist, dies aged 86

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US Astronauts of Apollo 12 (L-R) Mission Commander Charles "Pete" Conrad, .Command Module Pilot Richard Gordon and Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean Image copyright AFP
Image caption Alan Bean, right, flew in the Apollo 12 mission with fellow astronauts Charles Conrad (l) and Richard Gordon

Former US astronaut Alan Bean, who was the fourth man to walk on the Moon, has died in Texas aged 86, his family has said.

In later life he became an accomplished artist, producing paintings that were inspired by space.

His family said he had fallen ill two weeks ago in Indiana and died peacefully at a hospital in Houston.

Astronaut Mike Massimino described Bean as “the most extraordinary person I ever met”.

“He was a one-of-a-kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter,” said Massimino, who flew on two space shuttle missions.

Alan Bean, a former US Navy test pilot, was selected by Nasa as a trainee in 1963.

He went into space twice, the first time in November 1969 as the lunar module pilot on the Apollo 12 moon-landing mission.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Alan Bean commanded the lunar module for Apollo 12

In 1973 he was commander of the second crewed flight to Skylab – America’s first space station.

He retired from Nasa in 1981 and carved a successful career as an artist. 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.

Image caption Alan Bean’s paintings reflected his lifelong fascination with space

The three astronauts who preceded Alan Bean to the moon’s surface were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11 in July 1969, and Charles Conrad who was also on the Apollo 12 mission.

Of the four men, only Aldrin is still alive, now aged 88.

In all, 24 people have flown to the Moon and 12 have set foot on it, according to Nasa.

Alan Bean is survived by his wife Leslie, a sister and two children from a previous marriage.

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