Alan Bean, a US astronaut and the fourth man to walk on the moon died on Saturday at the age of 86. His family confirmed that he had fallen ill two weeks ago in Indiana and finally took his last breath at a hospital in Houston. He was the lunar module pilot of Apollo 12, which made the moon landing in 1969.
"Alan Bean once said 'I have the nicest life in the world'. It's a comforting sentiment to recall as we mourn his passing," said Jim Bridenstine, said administrator of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Alan Bean spent nearly 31 hours in the moon, and he along with mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr collected samples from the lunar surface and conducted various experiments. The team also checked upon Surveyor 3 which had landed on moon two years earlier.
After the successful completion of Apollo 12 mission, Bean headed the second Skylab mission in 1973. The space laboratory orbited the earth for 59 days.
Bean made an unexpected move in the 1970s when he decided to quit his career with NASA. Bean who was very much obsessed with painting decided to pursue a full-time career in the world of art. After his space career, he chronicled the six lunar missions conducted by NASA. Using actual moon dust and ground up remnants of Apollo spacecraft, he recreated the moon surroundings in his painting.
Bean has left behind something which will remain in the moon forever. The man threw his silver astronaut lapel pin as far as he could into a lunar crater. In many interviews, he has revealed that some other astronauts may pick up his pin some day or the other.
"When I look at the moon at night, I think about that pin up there, just as shiny as it ever was, and someday maybe somebody will go pick it up," said Bean, NPR reports.
With the death of Bean, only four moonwalkers are alive in the earth now; Buzz Aldrin, Dave Scott, Charlie Duke and Harrison Schmitt.