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Alan Bean is an aeronautical engineer and former astronaut who became the fourth person to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 12 space mission. He retired from the Navy in 1975, but continued to work for Astronaut Candidate Operations and Training Group until his resignation in 1981.
Bean was selected as part Astronaut Group 3 in 1963. He was selected to be the backup Command Pilot for Gemini 10. When fellow astronaut Clifton Williams was killed in an air crash, Bean became a member of the back-up crew for Apollo 9.
Bean was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12. In November 1969, Bean and Pete Conrad landed in the Moon’s Ocean of Storms. The flight was struck by lightning during take off, but were able to save the mission and continue on. They explored the lunar surface, deployed several surface experiments, and installed the first nuclear power generator station.
Bean was also the spacecraft commander of Skylab 3. This was a record setting flight that covered 39,267,993.6 km over the span of 59 days. During the mission Bean helped to test a prototype of the Manned Maneuvering Unit and performed one space walk outside the Skylab
Alan Bean resigned from NASA in June 1981 to devote his attention full time to creating his paintings. His decision was based on the fact that he felt he was fortunate enough to visit sights no artist’s eye, past or present, had ever viewed and he hoped to express these experiences through his art. He is the only artist in the world to use real Moon dust on his paintings. When he began painting, he realized that keepsake patches from his space suit were dirty with Moon dust.
Mr. Bean enjoyed a career that saw many innovations and advances in space flight. He is still living and creating art at his home in Houston.
We have written many articles about Alan Bean for Universe Today. Here’s an article about Moon walk, and here’s an article about the people that have walked on the Moon.
We’ve also recorded an entire episode of Astronomy Cast all about the Missions to the Moon. Listen here, Episode 114: The Moon, Part 2: Exploration of the Moon.