Alan Bean, the fourth person to walk on the moon and the last surviving member of the Apollo 12 mission, died in Houston, according to his family and NASA.
"Alan Bean once said 'I have the nicest life in the world, '" said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "We will remember him fondly as the great explorer who reached out to embrace the universe".
Schmitt, the lunar module pilot for Apollo 17, was one of many astronauts who mourned Bean's death and paid tribute Saturday to his accomplishments that blazed trails for future space exploration. His enthusiasm about space and art never waned.
"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, who was the fourth man to walk on the moon in 1969, left NASA in 1981 and made a successful transition from spaceman to a full-time professional artist. "[There's] no telling what that costs per minute to be on the moon - millions and millions of dollars - so you wanted to make every one of 'em productive". "I mean, can you think of anything better?" He flew into space on his first mission in 1969 aboard the Apollo 12 on NASA's second moon landing. The astronauts on that mission spent 59 days in space, a record at the time.
He was fascinated by model planes as a youngster and received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1955 from the University of Texas.
A test pilot in the U.S. Navy, Bean was one of 14 trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts in October 1963.
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".
"It looked like courageous people did that".
"When Alan's third career as the artist of Apollo moved forward, he would call me to ask about some detail about lunar soil, color or equipment he wanted to have represented exactly in a painting".
On his retirement from NASA in 1981 he started turning out works that incorporated moon dust and Apollo memorabilia in the paintings. "He was a one of a kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter".
Many of Mr. Bean's fellow astronauts were evidently taken aback by his choosing the art world over private business. "I was fortunate to be the first artist with the opportunity to be in the center of the action to capture what I saw and felt, and bring it back to earth to share with generations to come. Fair winds and following seas, Captain", Kelly tweeted.
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