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Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, 4th man on moon, is dead at 86

Bean also spent time on Skylab, NASA's '70s-era space station.

Apollo 12's lunar module over the moon
Apollo 12's lunar module. Credit: NASA

Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon and one of only 12 to have set foot there, died at 86 on Saturday, according to a statement on NASA's website.

Bean was a US Navy test pilot prior to being picked by NASA as an astronaut in 1963. Six years later, he piloted the lunar module on Apollo 12, the second moon landing mission, and walked on the moon's surface with fellow astronaut Charles Conrad.

Alan Bean on the moon

Bean there, done that. (Here's Alan on the moon. Fellow astronaut Charles Conrad is reflected in his glare shield.)


Among other things, the two explorers collected 75 pounds of moon rocks and soil for study on Earth. That "fantastic suite of lunar samples" is "a scientific gift that keeps on giving today and in the future," Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 lunar module pilot and the only geologist to walk on the moon, said in the statement.

"Their description of bright green concentrations of olivine (peridot) as 'ginger ale bottle glass,' however, gave geologists in Mission Control all a big laugh, as we knew exactly what they had discovered," Schmitt said.

Four years after his moon visit, Bean served as commander of the second crewed flight to the United States' first space station, Skylab. All told, Bean logged 69 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes in space, including 31 hours and 31 minutes on the moon's surface, the statement says.

In later years, Bean devoted himself to painting, taking his explorations of space as his subject. Some of his works used paint laced with small pieces of his moon dust-stained mission patches, the statement says.

Bean was the last remaining member of the Apollo 12 crew. Conrad died in 1999 and Dick Gordon died last year. The first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, died in 2012.

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