Alan L. Bean, Fourth Astronaut to Walk on the Moon, Dies at 86

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We lost another spacefaring pioneer this past weekend. Astronaut Alan L. Bean, the fourth human to take a step on the surface of the moon, passed away on May 26th, according to NASA. He was 86.

Mr. Bean began his career as a Navy test pilot. Selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts, he joined the astronaut corps in 1963. He made his first trip into space aboard Apollo 12 on November 14, 1969, just four months after Neil Armstrong’s historic landing. He spent a total of 31 hours on the moon.

The three astronauts aboard Apollo 12 (L to R): mission commander Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr., command module pilot Richard F. Gordon Jr., and lunar module pilot Alan L. Bean. All wearing Speedmasters, of course.

“I remember once looking back at Earth and starting to think, ‘Gee, that’s beautiful,’” Bean told People magazine in 1981. “Then I said to myself, ‘Quit screwing off and go collect rocks.’ We figured reflection wasn’t productive.”

Alan L. Bean was born on March 15, 1932, in Wheeler, Texas. In 1955, he earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas. He spent the later years of his career preparing future astronauts, retiring in the early ’80s to pursue another passion of his—painting.Alan L. Bean was the last living crew member of Apollo 12.

For more information, visit The Guardian.

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