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Astronaut, Artist Alan Bean, Dead At 86

Sad news this Memorial Day weekend as my favorite NASA astronaut, Alan Bean, died at the age of 86. He was the fourth man to step upon the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 12 mission. His second, and last trip into space was as mission commander for one of the crews of Skylab, America′s first space station. A distinguished Naval aviator and engineer, Alan LaVern Bean turned his experiences into art, painting incredibly beautiful scenes of space exploration. He died Saturday in his home in Houston, Texas, falling seriously ill after a recent trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana.

 

 

 

Born in Wheeler, Texas on March 15, 1932, Bean pursued a career in aviation and the U.S. Navy. After earning a B.S. In aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas, he joined the Navy after serving in the Officer Training Corps while in college. In 1960, he went through the Naval Test Pilot School and NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. In 1963, he was recruited by NASA as part of the third group of astronauts. He first was part of the back-up crew for the Gemini 10 mission, and later assigned to the Apollo Applications Program, nicknamed ′Tomorrow Land′. Bean was the first astronaut to demonstrate the usefulness of the large training pool known as the Neutral Buoyancy Simulator.

 

 

Shortly after Astronaut Clifton Williams died in a plane crash, Alan Bean′s former test pilot school instructor, Pete Conrad, selected Bean to replace Williams as Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 12. Launched on November 14, 1969, their destination was the Ocean of Storms. But on launch day, Apollo 12 had some local Florida storms to contend with. As the giant Saturn V rocket blasted off from Pad 39A, Apollo 12 was struck by lightning, causing the spacecraft′s control systems to be disrupted. As Pete Conrad considered aborting, Mission Control suggested a course of action. From Houston, John Aaron instructed the crew to ″Try SCE to Auxiliary″. Bean was the closest to the Signal Conditioning Electronics switch, so he threw it and saved the day!

 

Once in lunar orbit, Conrad and Bean descended to the Moon, leaving Command Module Pilot Richard Gordon behind. The lunar lander, named Intrepid, made a pin-point landing just 580 feet away from its intended target. Far better than Neil Armstrong did in Apollo 11. One of the mission′s objectives was to visit the Surveyor 3 lunar landing probe, which had arrived two and a half years earlier. Intrepid landed within less than 1,200 feet away from it. But success of the mission was somewhat short lived. While adjusting a new, color TV camera, Bean accidentally pointed the camera at the Sun, frying its electronics. Thus, their 31 hours on the Moon and two lunar walks were not watched by the people of Earth.

 

On July 29, 1973, Bean led Jack Lousma and Owen Garriot on the final Skylab space station mission. They remained in orbit 59 days, returning to Earth on September 25. Bean made one space walk during the mission, test flying the new Manned Maneuvering Unit, to be later used frequently on Space Shuttle and ISS missions. The Skylab 3 mission itself was a great success, completing 150% of objectives. Later, Bean was detailed as back-up crew for the Apollo-Soyuz mission and served NASA in other capacities until he retired in June,1981. In 1975, Bean retired from the U.S. Navy with the rank of Captain.

 

The paintings made by Alan Bean are very special. Not only are the beautiful depictions of space exploration, but the originals have actual sprinklings of Moon dust. This dust came from the patches he wore on his space suit during his Apollo 12 moonwalks. Some paintings also include flakes of gold from his astronaut wings. Alan Bean was a fun, lighthearted adventurer. During Apollo 12, he sneaked a camera timer device to the lunar surface, intending to take pictures of both Conrad and he together, to confuse and dismay NASA. However, the timer was buried deep in one of the work bags and he did not find it in time to make use of it. Alan Bean will be missed, but his art, and legacy live on!

 

For more REAL NEWS and views follow Andrew Zarowny on MeWe, PatrioticSpace.us, or on Twitter @mrcapitalist. Also follow Andy at his own website, nationalistpundit.com. Support this website via Patreon.

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