Captain Alan Bean, USN

astronauts, Al Bean, NASA

(March 15, 1932 â€“ May 26, 2018)

Texas born Alan Bean was a US Navy test pilot prior to his selection as a NASA astronaut as a part of Astronaut Group 3. NASA selected Bean as backup command pilot of Gemini 10, but he did not get an early Apollo flight as a result. He found himself assigned instead to the Apollo Applications Program. In that capacity he became the first astronaut to dive at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. He was subsequently an advocate of that methiod of astronaut training – something which is now a mainstay.

Following the death of fellow astronaut Clifton Williams in an air crash, Pete Conrad – who had been Bean’s instructor at Test Pilot School in the late 1950s – personally requested that Bean replace Williams as backup Lunar Module Pilot. This meant Bean was prime crew for Apollo 12. With Conrad as Commander and Dick Gordon as Command Module Pilot, Bean became the fourth man on the moon.

Launching in November 1969, Apollo 12 was the second mission to land on the lunar surface. Landing at the Ocean of Storms. He had a total of 7 hours and 45 minutes walking on the lunar surface across two EVAs. Bean had one other mission in space. In 1973 NASA assigned him as Commander of Skylab 3. A 59 day mission with Jack Lousma and scientist-astronaut Owen Garriott.

Following his retirement from the US Navy in 1975 and NASA in 1981, Bean pursued a career as an artist. Painting various space-related scenes and documenting his own experiences in space as well as those of his fellow astronauts. He mixed moondust from the patches on his spacesuit into the paints, and used his lunar geology hammer (which he had brought back from the moon against mission protocol) to texturise the paint.

Photographed at his studio in Houston. January 2008.