Apollo Moonwalker and artist Alan Bean dies at 86

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The astronaut-who, after retiring from NASA in 1981, devoted himself to creating an "artistic record of humanity's first exploration of another world", according to NASA's statement-fell ill while traveling in IN two weeks ago.

In 1973, Bean was spacecraft commander of the second manned mission to Skylab, the first US space station.

"He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly", Leslie Bean said.

She said that Bean, a native Texan, died peacefully while surrounded by his loved ones. Born March 15, 1932, in Wheeler, Texas, Bean received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas in 1955.

Bean spent a total of 69 days in space, including 31 hours on the moon. His paintings, inspired by space travel, featured lunar boot prints as well as small pieces of his mission patches which were stained by Moon dust.

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.

"He was a one-of-a-kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter", said Massimino, who flew on two space shuttle missions.

Alan Bean is survived by his wife Leslie, a sister and two children from a previous marriage. "I was operating on a timed checklist that we've been trained to do, to try to maximize every really minute on the moon".

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