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American astronaut Alan Bean, who walked on the moon in 1969 during the Apollo 12 mission and commanded a crew on the Skylab space station in 1973 before giving up his career to become a full-time painter, died in Houston on Saturday, officials said.

He became the fourth human to walk on the moon during the Apollo 12 mission in November 1969, exploring Oceanus Procellarum alongside the late astronaut Pete Conrad.

Bean retired from NASA in 1981 and devoted much of his time to creating an artistic record of space exploration.

"Alan Bean once said 'I have the nicest life in the world.' It's a comforting sentiment to recall as we mourn his passing", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a press release.

Bean died at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston at the age of 86.

In the four decades before he died, he spent his time making Apollo-themed paintings featured canvases textured with lunar boot prints, made using acrylics embedded with small pieces of his moon dust-stained mission patches.

Bean was born in Wheeler, Texas, in 1932 and educated at the University of Texas - graduating in 1955.

"When you're getting ready to go to the moon, every day's like Christmas and your birthday rolled into one". But I want it to be the most lovely black dirt that's ever been painted in the history of art.

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"I think of myself not as an astronaut who paints, but as an artist who was once an astronaut", wrote Bean in his 1998 book Apollo written with Andrew Chaikin.

Bean, a former U.S. Navy test pilot who was part of NASA's third-ever group of astronauts, twice flew to space.

He said he thought about it often, "and 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". "In all, he had a hand in breaking 11 world records in the areas of space and astronautics", said Bridenstine.

USA astronaut Karen Nyberg called Bean a kind, gracious and humble man and a true role model. "He said he hoped to capture those experiences through his art". "I feel fortunate to have met him".

Beam is survived by his wife Leslie, sister Paula Stott, and children Amy Sue and son Clay.

His wife of 40 years, Leslie Bean, said in the statement he died peacefully surrounded by those who loved him.

In 1994 Bean told The New York Times the otherworldly perspectives he got in space inspired him to devote the latter half of his life to art, to the surprise of many of his colleagues.


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