Alan Bean was a NASA astronaut, an engineer, and was the fourth person to walk on the moon. He was born Alan LaVern Bean on March 15, 1932 in Wheeler, Texas. He completed his public schooling at R. L. Paschal High School, and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1955. Upon graduation, Bean was commissioned by the U.S. Navy and was assigned to a jet attack squadron in Florida. After his tour of duty, he went on to Navy Test Pilot School and flew as a test pilot on different naval aircraft.
In 1963, Bean was chosen by NASA as part of the third group of astronauts. He was initially selected to be the backup Command Pilot for Gemini 10. After astronaut Clifton Williams lost his life in 1967, Bean took his place in the back-up crew for Apollo 9. Eventually, Bean earned his place on a spacecraft. He was named the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12 and launched into space on November 14, 1969. After flying 250,000 miles, Bean and Mission Commander Pete Conrad landed in the Moon’s Ocean of Storms. The two astronauts surveyed the lunar surface, arranged various lunar surface experiments, and installed the first nuclear power generator station on the Moon to serve as the power source. Bean and Conrad returned to Earth ten days later. During landing, a dislodged camera flew and hit Bean in the head, which resulted in a concussion and stitches.
Along with flying Apollo, Bean was the spacecraft commander of Skylab 3. His 59-day mission began on July 29, 1973. He flew a record-setting 24,400,000 miles alongside Dr. Owen Garriott and Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Jack Lousma. During the mission to Skylab, Bean tested a prototype of the Manned Maneuvering Unit and completed one space walk outside the Skylab. His final assignment was with the American-Russian Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. He was named back-up spacecraft commander of the United States flight crew. Bean retired from the Navy in 1975, and resigned from NASA in 1981.
After 18 years as an astronaut, Bean devoted his life to painting. His hope and dream was to express his unique experiences in space through art. In some of his paintings, he wanted to add color to the moon. He is the only artist in the world that used real Moon dust on his paintings. His most famous pieces include “Lunar Grand Prix” and “Rock and Roll on the Ocean of Storms”. Many of his paintings reside on the walls of space enthusiasts. He continues to paint and pursue his dream at home in Houston, Texas along with his wife and two grown children.