Sci-tech

Alan Bean, moon-walking USA astronaut turned painter, dies in Houston

Alan Bean, moon-walking USA astronaut turned painter, dies in Houston

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

"He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly", Leslie Bean said. "A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him".

Bean was a Navy test pilot before being selected to become an astronaut in 1963.

"Alan Bean was the most extraordinary person I ever met", said astronaut Mike Massimino, who flew on two space shuttle missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

After Apollo, Bean commanded the second Skylab mission in 1973 - orbiting the Earth for 59 days. He and crew mate Pete Conrad explored the moon's surface and conducted experiments while Richard Gordon orbited overhead in the command module, scouting landing sites for future moon missions.

In 1973, Bean commanded the Skylab 3 mission, the second manned mission to the first USA space station. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas in 1955.

In a statement, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine described Mr Bean as a "boundary pusher".

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Bean became an accomplished artist after his retirement in 1981, painting scene from his space explorations. Bean is one of only 12 men to have touched the moon's surface. He spent a total of 69 days in space, including 31 hours on the moon.

"I remember once looking back at Earth and starting to think, 'Gee, that's attractive.' Then I said to myself, 'Quit screwing off and go collect rocks.' We figured reflection wasn't productive", Bean told People magazine in 1981. The paintings sometimes included footprints from a molding of the boots he wore on the moon along with pieces of his spacesuit patches and a sprinkling of their moondust residue.

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

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?"

Beam is survived by his wife Leslie, sister Paula Stott, and children Amy Sue and son Clay.

"I just say it how I think it, even though other people will say, 'That's weird, ' because it's from the other side of the brain", he said.