Former US astronaut Alan Bean fourth person to walk on the moon died on Saturday 26 May. Bean was born in Wheeler, Texas on March 15, 1932. He had graduated from University of Texas in 1955 with a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering. Before he was an astronaut, he was a test pilot in the US Navy. Then, in October 1963 he was chosen by nasa for its third group of astronauts. He went to space twice, on missions Apollo 12 in November 1969 and Skylab in July 1973.

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In 1981, he retired from NASA and started to paint his memories from his missions, becoming a renown Artist. His family said that Bean had fallen ill in Indiana two weeks before his death and died yesterday at a hospital in Houston at the age of 86.

'He was a good friend'

Alan Bean left his wife Leslie, his two children and his sister behind when he passed, as well as many friends and colleagues. His former colleagues from NASA told great things about him in the statement published by NASA. Walt Cunningham, another astronaut, who flew the Apollo 7 said that he had been friends with Bean for over 55 years. They had worked together at the Skylab mission. "We have never lived more than a couple of miles apart, even after we left NASA. And for years, Alan and I never missed a month where we did not have a cheeseburger together at Miller’s Café in Houston. We are accustomed to losing friends in our business but this is a tough one.

Mike Massimino, an astronaut who flew to space twice to work on the Hubble Space Telescope, defined Bean as the most 'extraordinary' man he had ever met.

The official statement from NASA included a quote from Massimino explaining how wonderful Bean was as a person and how grateful Mike was to be his friend.

An inspiring painter

After his retirement from NASA, Bean started to work as a painter by painting pictures of space, the Moon and the Earth. He painted pictures of astronauts and the Earth's view from the Moon, as well as a painting of lunar bootprints which even had some small pieces of Moondust -stained mission patches embedded into the acrylic paint. Robert Z Pearlman, a space history specialist, said to the BBC "While he captured these great scenes from history, and scenes that never could be captured by a camera, and only in painting, he would also basically sprinkle them with moon dust." Another US astronaut Karen Nyberg wrote that as a person with interest in spaceflight and art, Alan Bean was her hero.

With Bean's death, only Buzz Aldrin, Dave Scott, Charlie Duke and Harrison Schmitt are left from the 12 that walked on the surface of the Moon.