The space science community suffered a hard blow this weekend following the loss of former United States astronaut and famed Moonwalker Alan Bean, 86.
Image Credit: NASA
NASA memorialized Bean in a public statement released on Saturday. As it would seem, his passing took place at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas related to complications from a “short illness.”
“As all great explorers are, Alan was a boundary pusher," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine commented in the statement.
"Rather than accepting the limits of technology, science, and even imagination, he sought to advance those lines -- in all his life’s endeavors."
Bean served as a lunar module pilot during NASA’s Apollo 12 mission back in November 1969. After his spacecraft arrived at the Moon, Bean earned the title as the fourth U.S. astronaut to set foot on the lunar surface.
Throughout the Apollo 12 mission’s execution, Bean and NASA commander Charles “Pete” Conrad worked collaboratively to perform scientific experiments and collect several pounds’ worth of lunar rock samples for analysis back on Earth.
Bean retired from NASA in 1981, but his fascination with outer space was far from over. He later turned to an artistic career, painting space-themed canvases that commemorated the Apollo missions he served in.
The list of NASA astronauts that have visited the lunar surface is just 12 strong, and only four of those astronauts are still alive today following Bean’s passing, including Buzz Aldrin, Charlie Duke, Dave Scott, and Harrison Schmitt.
As the old saying goes, ‘gone but not forgotten;’ Bean’s Moonwalking legacy will live on as NASA explores new avenues for sending astronauts to the Moon again in coming years.