Former U.S. astronaut Alan Bean has died aged 86

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“Hey, it’s real nice moving around up here. You don’t seem to get tired. You really hop like a bunny,” Bean said on the Moon. His footprints remained on a region called the Ocean of StormsIn later life he also made paintings inspired by space. For the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11’s moon landing, Bean exhibited his paintings of lunar scenes at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington. “Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew. He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly,” said Leslie Bean, Bean’s wife of 40 years, in a statement.

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“He was a one-of-a-kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter,” another astronaut, Mike Massimino, remembered him. Alan Bean was a former US Navy test pilot who was selected by Nasa as a trainee in 1963. In 1973 he was commander of the second crewed flight to Skylab – America’s first space station. The three astronauts who preceded Alan Bean to the moon’s surface were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11 in July 1969, and Charles Conrad. Only Aldrin is still alive, now aged 88.

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