Astronaut and moonwalker Alan Bean dies at 86

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Bean also commanded the second crewed flight to Skylab, America's first space station, in 1973. According to Bean's official NASA biography, Mission II "accomplished 150 percent of its pre-mission forecast goals".

"Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew", his wife, Leslie Bean, said in a statement.

"I just say it how I think it, even though other people will say, 'That's weird, ' because it's from the other side of the brain", he said.

In 1981, after logging more than 25 million miles of spaceflight, he retired at the age of 49 as head of the NASA astronaut training group to become an artist. He was a Navy Test Pilot School graduate and had 5,500 hours in 27 different aircraft types.

His paintings drew on his recollections, interviews with fellow astronauts, photos, and videos.

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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?"

For the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11's moon landing, Bean exhibited his paintings of lunar scenes at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

Bean was a US Navy test pilot prior to being picked by NASA as an astronaut in 1963.

Schmitt paid tribute to Bean on Saturday, calling him "one of the great Renaissance men of his generation - engineer, fighter pilot, astronaut and artist". The fourth person to walk on the Moon, he spent 10-plus hours on the lunar surface during Apollo 12.

Bean went to space twice, walking on the moon in November 1969 as lunar module pilot for the Apollo-12 mission.

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He received a Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Texas in 1955.

The Apollo 12 mission started with a shakeup.

In the aftermath of Alan Bean's death, only four of the NASA astronauts who walked on the moon between 1969 and 1972 are still living - Buzz Aldrin, Dave Scott, Charlie Duke, and Jack Schmitt.

"He was a one-of-a-kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter", said Massimino, who flew on two space shuttle missions.

Over the course of that third career, Bean created more than 100 paintings that he said marked "the beginning of a new category in the progression of art history: art of human experiences off our home planet".

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He leaves his second wife, Leslie, a son, Clay, and a daughter, Amy Sue, from his marriage to his first wife, Sue.

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