Bean, who passed away at Houston Methodist after battling a short illness, was a lunar module pilot on Apollo 12 in 1969, the second manned flight to land on the moon. Bean is one of only 12 men to have touched the moon's surface. His trips to space prompted his surprise turn of career.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the space agency mourned his loss.
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 left the Navy in 1975, but did not leave NASA until 1981.
"I'd always wanted to be a pilot, ever since I could remember", said Bean in the 1998 NASA oral history. He said, "I feel blessed every day when I'm working on these paintings. the first artist to ever go to another world and try to tell stories that people care about".
Bean remembered telling a senior NASA official named George Abbey the reason he was leaving the space agency.
Bean was the lunar module pilot for the second moon landing mission in November 1969.
FILE PHOTO: Retired Astronaut Alan Bean, 66, poses for a portrait in his spacesuit at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, U.S., in this undated photo.
Born on March 15, 1932, in Wheeler, Texas, Bean received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas in 1955.
Bean was a Navy test pilot before being selected to become an astronaut in 1963. He and crew mate Pete Conrad explored the moon's surface and conducted experiments while Richard Gordon orbited overhead in the command module, scouting landing sites for future moon missions. He was the fourth person to walk on the Moon, flying aboard Apollo 12, and proved crucial to humanity's understanding of its closest celestial neighbor.
The three astronauts, all holding the rank of Navy commander, splashed down in the Pacific Ocean only 3 miles from the aircraft carrier Hornet.
In 1973 he was commander of the second crewed flight to Skylab - America's first space station.
Much like his former career as an astronaut, Bean spent his years as an artist creating detail-oriented moonscapes, which could be tricky to get just right.
Bean is survived by his wife Leslie; two children from a previous marriage, Amy Sue and Clay; and sister Paula Scott.
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