Alan Bean, Fourth Man to Walk on the Moon, Dies at 86

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Astronaut Alan Bean, 4th human to walk on moon, has died, NASA announces

"A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him".

"I remember once looking back at Earth and starting to think, 'Gee, that's handsome.' Then I said to myself, 'Quit screwing off and go collect rocks.' We figured reflection wasn't productive", Alan Bean was quoted as saying by People magazine in 1981. "He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly", Bean's widow, Leslie Bean, said in a statement.

He obtained a commission in Navy aviation and after completing test-pilot school was selected by NASA as one of 14 new astronauts in October 1963.

He retired from NASA in 1981 to embark on a third career as an artist, creating Apollo-themed paintings textured with lunar boot prints or using acrylics infused with small bits of his mission patches sprinkled with moon dust.

In 1973 he was commander of the second crewed flight to Skylab - America's first space station. I am so grateful he was my mentor and friend, and I will miss him terribly. He flew into space on his first mission in 1969 aboard the Apollo 12 on NASA's second moon landing.

Many fellow space explorers posted tributes to Bean on Twitter.

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Back in 1998, Mr Bean described his preparation for the moon landing as "Christmas and your birthday rolled into one", adding: "I mean, can you think of anything better?"

"I would say I had zero philosophical thoughts at that time", Bean told NPR of his time on the moon in 2014.

"I remember once looking back at Earth and starting to think, 'Gee, that's lovely.' Then I said to myself, 'Quit screwing off and go collect rocks.' We figured reflection wasn't productive", Bean told People magazine in 1981. Bean is one of only 12 men to have touched the moon's surface.

FILE PHOTO: Astronaut Alan L. Bean holds a Special Environmental Sample Container filled with lunar soil collected during the Apollo 12 mission in this NASA handout photo provided November 19, 1969. "I've got the Earth and my imagination, and I'm the first to have the moon, too".

Born March 15, 1932 in Wheeler, Texas the future moonwalker earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas in 1955. "We're really here. That's the Earth up there.' And I said it two or three times to myself".

Alan Bean is survived by his wife Leslie, a sister and two children from a previous marriage.

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