Alan Bean passes away at 86

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R.I.P. Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon, has passed away at 86.

After he retired as an astronaut Bean became well known as an artist depicting the exploration of space.



  • Kirk

    At this point, only four Moon walkers are still with us: Gene Cernan & Charlie Duke are 82, David Scott is 85, and Buzz Aldrin is 88.

    I don’t know what will be more morbid, when we are down to two and are wondering who will be last, or when we are down to one and are wondering if he can hold on long enough to see a new generation walk on the Moon.

    Shuttle astronaut Tom Jones was on The Space Show last month, and he predicted that NASA might get around to returning astronauts to the moon by 2025 or so.

  • Jwing

    Sad news, indeed.
    I and my kids had the great fortune of meeting Alan Bean and his lovely wife Leslie in their Houston home several years ago.
    He showed my kids and let them hold the actual hammer he used on the Moon for the Apollo 12 mission to bang the American Flag into the regolith. He let them where his Skylab gloves and showed me the famous instruction cards attached to his lunar suit’s glove gauntlet with the risqué pictures of the lunar “ mountains”!
    He took us out to lunch at his favorite local burger place and paid. He gave my kids some amazing advice.
    He told me that of all the famous people that he had met from Presidents to movie stars to Werner Von Braun, the one person he was truly impressed with meeting in person was Elvis Presley….now that’s saying something. He said Elvis was truly larger than life.
    Alan Bean and his wife Leslie were the most humble and down to earth people.
    He was loved by all the astronauts because he got along with all in his good natured Texan way.
    An American hero and the only artist to be able to paint the Moon from the perspective of having been there to know what it really looks like!
    We will miss you Alan Bean…God Speed.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Gene Cernan died last year. His crewmate Harrison Schmitt is still alive and is the fourth of the surviving quartet of Moonwalkers along with the other three you named.

    It would certainly be nice if at least one of these four men was still around to see the 13th pair of American boots touch the lunar surface – preferably all four. Standing on the Moon is something that should never fall out of American living memory.

    Mr. Jones, if he actually said what you report, is a thoroughgoing optimist. It’s by no means obvious that NASA will even get its initial manned circumlunar mission off the ground by 2025, never mind land on the Moon’s surface. That said, there well could be fresh American bootprints in the regolith by 2025 – potentially a lot of them. But the pacing item is not going to be SLS or anything else NASA is doing, but the SpaceX BFR-BFS.

    It will be an irony of – literally – cosmic proportions if Elon Musk is the one who salvages the legacy of our now-absent Apollo heroes – too many of whom were publicly dismissive of his efforts when they were still alive.

  • Kirk

    Thanks for the correction, Dick. I had initially written Cernan and Schmitt, but then pulled the wrong one. Schmitt is still the youngster of the group at 82.

    Mr. Jones, when asked about the downsides of the Shuttle program, spoke of how political reality often leads to less than ideal programs, but when discussing LOP-G, he enthusiastically gave the party line about it being in the vicinity of the Moon while at the same time giving experience which will apply to deep space missions. 2025 sounded like one of those “just over the horizon” dates.

    I am thrilled by what SpaceX is doing, but I am troubled that an inordinate proportion of my hopes for the near- to mid-term future of spaceflight lies with one company and with the dreams of one man who controls it.

    Jwing, thanks for those anecdotes. Numbers are always forefront in my mind, and my first thoughts are instinctively “how old?” and “how many left?”. Your personal stories are much more satisfying.

  • Michael Dean Miller


    There are tears in my Tang.


  • wayne

    nicer long-form video….

    “A Conversation with Alan Bean”
    -Smithsonian Event March 2017

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