Astronaut Alan Bean died over the weekend at the age of 86. As the lunar module pilot for the Apollo 12 mission, Bean was part of the second crew that landed on the Moon and became the fourth man to walk on the lunar surface. He later commanded the second crewed mission to America’s first space station, Skylab.
Bean was the last surviving member of the Apollo 12 mission, and following his death, only four moonwalkers remain: Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11), David Scott (Apollo 15), Charles Duke (Apollo 16), and Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17).
Born in 1932 in Wheeler, Texas, he attended the University of Texas at Austin in 1955, and joined the US Navy, where he trained to become a pilot. The Navy later assigned him to the US Naval Test Pilot School in Maryland, where he trained under his future Apollo 12 commander Pete Conrad, an instructor at the school. Bean would later be selected as part of Astronaut Group 3 in 1963, which included Buzz Aldrin, Eugene Cernan (Apollo 10 and 17 — who passed away in 2016), and Michael Collins (Apollo 11).
Apollo 12’s commander, Conrad, specifically requested Bean for his crew. Along with Command Module Pilot Richard F. Gordon Jr., the mission launched on November 14th, 1969, and was struck by lightning seconds into the launch. Aided by ground control, Bean recalled a procedure that saved the mission from an early abort, and successfully landed on the Moon’s Ocean of Storms on November 19th.