Fourth man to walk on the Moon, Alan Bean, dies aged 86

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

Bean was the fourth person to walk on the moon and spent over 10 hours on the lunar surface during Apollo 12.

Alan Bean (R), pictured in November 1969 with his fellow U.S. astronauts of Apollo 12, Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr.

Bean died at the Houston Methodist Hospital after becoming sick two weeks ago, according to a statement from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Bean was the lunar module pilot for the second moon landing mission in November 1969. "Alan and I have been best friends for 55 years - ever since the day we became astronauts", said Walt Cunningham, who flew on Apollo 7.

Working at his home in Houston, Bean created paintings that focused on the Apollo missions, with images of himself and other astronauts on the moon rendered with the authenticity in lighting and color that only an eyewitness could provide.

Bean was born on March 15, 1932 in Wheeler, Texas.

Bean spent 31 hours on the moon, collecting samples and deploying several experiments with mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr. Armstrong once said, "Alan Bean and his "astroartistry" recreate the drama and excitement of man's exploration of the moon as only could be chronicled by one who has been there".

Many fellow space explorers posted tributes to Bean on Twitter.

"I think of myself not as an astronaut who paints, but as an artist who was once an astronaut", wrote Bean in his 1998 book Apollo written with Andrew Chaikin.

They also reached Surveyor 3, an unmanned lunar probe that had flown to the moon 31 months earlier, and cut away pieces of it so NASA could examine the moon's impact on its materials.

He was among the elite group NASA chose for its third group of astronauts in 1963, having served as a test pilot in the US Navy.

USA astronaut Karen Nyberg called Bean a kind, gracious and humble man and a true role model.

He said: "I think a lot of it just had to do with it looked exciting. Fair winds and following seas, Captain", Kelly tweeted. "Thank you for letting me stand upon your shoulders".

Bean is survived by his wife Leslie; two children from a previous marriage, Amy Sue and Clay; and sister Paula Scott.

Mr Bean's wife Leslie remembered him as "the strongest and kindest man I ever knew", adding: "He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly". But I want it to be the most lovely black dirt that's ever been painted in the history of art.

"Alan Bean once said 'I have the nicest life in the world, ' " Bridenstine said in a statement.

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