Apollo 12 Astronaut Alan Bean Dead at Age 86, Now Only 4 Moonwalkers Left Alive


Alan Bean passed away on May 26, 2018, at the age of 86.

His accomplishments with NASA helped lay the framework for a lot of what we now know about space.

Not only was he one of the members of the Apollo 12 mission, but he was also the fourth man to ever step foot on the moon. He actually spent 31 hours on the moon!

There are now only four “moonwalkers” left alive: Buzz Aldrin, Dave Scott, Charlie Duke, and Harrison Schmitt.

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The Wheeler, Texas, native was first recruited to work for NASA in 1963 while he was working as a test pilot for the U.S. Navy.

During his time with NASA, he went into space twice. First, on the Apollo 12 mission in 1969 with Pete Conrad and Richard Gordon. During that mission, they conducted experiments and installed a nuclear power generator.

His second mission in space was Skylab Mission II in 1973. It was the second crewed flight to the United States’ first space station, Skylab. Bean was the commander of that mission and was in space for 53 days.

After finishing his time with NASA, Bean turned to more artistic pursuits. Most of his paintings were based on the stellar sights that most people have never seen.

Bean was hospitalized in mid-May after he fell ill during a trip to Indiana for a speaking engagement. He eventually passed away on May 26th.

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

Some of Bean’s co-astronauts are also expressing how much they’ll miss him and how much he impacted their lives.

Walt Cunningham, who flew on Apollo 7, said, “Alan and I have been best friends for 55 years — ever since the day we became astronauts.”

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“We have never lived more than a couple of miles apart, even after we left NASA. And for years, Alan and I never missed a month where we did not have a cheeseburger together at Miller’s Café in Houston. We are accustomed to losing friends in our business but this is a tough one,” he continued.

Mike Massimino, who flew on two separate missions to service the Hubble Space Station, described Bean as the “most extraordinary person” he had ever met, praising him for his achievements in space and as an artist.

“But what was truly extraordinary was his deep caring for others and his willingness to inspire and teach by sharing his personal journey so openly.  Anyone who had the opportunity to know Alan was a better person for it, and we were better astronauts by following his example,” Massimino said.

“I am so grateful he was my mentor and friend, and I will miss him terribly.  He was a great man and this is a great loss.”

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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