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Alan Bean, Apollo 12’s artistic astronaut, dies at 86

Alan Bean
Astronaut Alan Bean poses for a portrait in front of a mockup of NASA’s lunar module in advance of his Apollo 12 moon mission in 1969. (NASA Photo)

Artist-astronaut Alan Bean, the moonwalker who saw himself as different from the rest, died today at the age of 86 at Houston Medical Hospital.

Bean’s death followed a sudden illness that befell him two weeks earlier during a trip to Fort Wayne, Ind., for a school fundraising event.

He became the fourth human to walk on the moon during the Apollo 12 mission in November 1969, exploring Oceanus Procellarum alongside the late astronaut Pete Conrad. Bean also commanded the second crewed flight to Skylab, America’s first space station, in 1973.

“Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew. He was the love of my life, and I miss him dearly,” Leslie Bean, his wife of 40 years, said in a statement released by NASA and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. “A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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