Alan Bean, moon-walking U.S. astronaut turned painter, dies in Houston

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He trained as a Navy test pilot under Conrad, who years later during their astronaut time played a crucial role in getting Bean designated for the Apollo mission.

Bean spent a total of 31 hours on the moon, performing experiments and collecting soil and rock samples for further study.

On Nov. 19, 1969, Bean, together with Apollo 12 commander Charles "Pete" Conrad, landed on the Ocean of Storms and became the fourth human to walk on the Moon.

"Alan Bean was the most extraordinary person I ever met", said astronaut Mike Massimino, who flew on two space shuttle missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

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FILE PHOTO: Retired Astronaut Alan Bean, 66, poses for a portrait in his spacesuit at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, U.S., in this undated photo.

Schmitt, the lunar module pilot for Apollo 17, was one of many astronauts who mourned Bean's death and paid tribute Saturday to his accomplishments that blazed trails for future space exploration. "He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly", Bean's widow, Leslie Bean, said in a statement.

According to a statement from Bean's family, the astronaut was "surrounded by those who loved him" when he "died peacefully" on Saturday at the Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.

Bean was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, the second Nasa mission to the Moon in November 1969, only four months after the historic first landing by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11. "[There's] no telling what that costs per minute to be on the moon - millions and millions of dollars - so you wanted to make every one of 'em productive". Some of his pieces even integrated moon dust, lunar boot prints and his mission patches. He was a Navy Test Pilot School graduate and had 5,500 hours in 27 different aircraft types.

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Mr. Bean returned to space in July 1973, when he commanded a three-man flight to the orbiting space research station Skylab, the forerunner of the International Space Station.

He was fascinated by model planes as a youngster and received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1955 from the University of Texas. His trips to space prompted his surprise turn of career. "My boss asked if I could make a living off art, and I said I didn't know, but I had to find out".

He is survived by his wife, sister and two children from a prior marriage.

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