Apollo 12 Astronaut Alan Bean has died aged 86

Apollo 15 Astronaut, Alan Bean died on the 26th May 2018, aged 86.

He logged 1,672 hours in space, including more than 10 hours of spacewalks on the Moon and in Earth’s orbit.

Source – NASA

Alan Bean walked on the Moon while he was on Apollo 12, commanded the second Skylab crew and then resigned after 18 year as an astronaut to paint remarkable worlds and sights he had seen.

He was a lunar module pilot on the November  1969 Apollo 12 mission, the second moon landing.  He and mission commander Pete Conrad explored on the Lunar Ocean of Storms and set up several experiments powered by a small nuclear generator.

During his career Alan Bean established 11 records in space and aeronautics and received many awards.

Lightning struck the Saturn V rocket about 36 seconds after launch, taking the fuel cells, thus most of the electrical power to the Command Module, offline.  Quick coordination with Mission Control allowed the Apollo 12 crew to solve the problem, restore power and continue on into Earth’s orbit.

Throughout the 31-hour lunar surface stay by Pete Conrad and Alan Bean, Dick Gordon remained in orbit around the moon on the command module, “Yankee Clipper”.

Astronaut Alan Bean holds a sample container during the Apollo 12 mission!
Source – BBC

His decision to retire from NASA to devote his full time to painting  was, he said based on his 18 years as an astronaut , during which he visited places and saw things no artist’s eye had ever seen first hand.
He said he hoped to capture those experiences through his art.

Alan Bean surrounded by his paintings!
Source – alanbean.com

Some of the tools he used on the moon were the same tools he use to create his uniquely textured surface.  With careful observation you can see the imprints of Moon boots (not his actual boots, as they were left on the Moon to save weight) walking across the painting.  These Moon prints are just like the ones the Apollo astronauts made as they went about their explorations.  When you take a closer look you will see marks from the same hammer Alan Bean used to chip off rock fragments for return to Earth.  There are also circular marks made by a sharpened core tube bit that he drove two meters into the lunar surface to collect several layers of soil.

With an even more careful inspection you can find small pieces of foil that provided insulation on the hatch between their Command Module Yankee Clipper and the Lunar Module Intrepid. You can also find pieces of the American flag, name tag, and NASA and Apollo 12 mission emblems that Alan Bean wore on his space suit. These became covered with dust as he walked and worked on the lunar surface so within each painting are minute amounts of Moon dust from the Ocean of Storms.

It is with these techniques and artifacts that Alan Bean created paintings with truly out of this world texture, unique in all of art history.  Texture with impressions of moon boots and hammer and core tube bit marks, to further amplify the feeling of actually being there.

NASA said ” We remember Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, who walked on the Moon in 1969, commanded the second Skylab crew in 1973 and went on in retirement to paint the remarkable worlds and sights he had seen like no other artist”.

Alan Bean will be sadly missed by all.

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