Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

27 May 2018

Clear Skies, Beano.

Alan Bean, the fourth man to set foot on the moon, has passed away.

Alan Bean, artist and astronaut. Image: © Smithsonian / NASM (as far as I know...)
Alan Lavern Bean was assigned to the Apollo Applications Project (AAP), when Apollo 12 original crewmember Clifton Williams died in a plane crash. 
Commander Pete Conrad immediately thought of Alan Bean as a replacement. Apollo 12 was the only crew who were actual friends that flew together.
Of course, Alan bean, Beano for his friends, was the one who knew what SCE to AUX meant, when Houston radioed that to the crew after a lightning strike took out the control panels in the Apollo, just after they left the launch pad. Their mission was out of the box, well-organised, professionally executed and filled to the brim with fun.
After Apollo 12, Bean resumed his work on AAP and commanded the second manned mission to Skylab in 1974. When he retired from NASA, Alan Bean became a prolicic painter. His main subject was of course his mission to the moon and Apollo in general. His paintings were realistic and had a nice grain to them. He added small chips of their Apollo spacecraft heat shield in  his work and used his tools he used on the moon to give his paitings more structure. In some ways, Bean also can be compared to Manet, when he made an elaborate study of the colour of the moon, the same way Manet did with the Cathedral of Reims. He painted situations that never happened, like the plan he and Pete conrad had to make a photo of the two of them together with a timer he had smuggled with him in his suit ( he couldn't find it when they planned the photo so it was never made) and also the full crew of Apollo 12 together in front of the LM.
Now that Alan Bean has died, the crew might be back together again, somewhere out of this world.

Clear skies, Alan Bean and the crew of Apollo 12.

image: © Alan Bean / source: ArsTechnica

Apollo 12 has always been my favourite mission and not just because of the nice romanticised version they did of the journey in From the Earth to the Moon, but it already was before that. The fact that they were friends made the mission so much more fun to experience for all of those involved. The situation with the lightning strike, Their precision landing next to Surveyor Crater, The well-performed tasks on the lunar surface, Pete's "whoopee" quote, and Dick Gordon wishing he was there with is friends make this story a great one. Pete and Beano both commanded a second mission to Spacelab. Both of them agreed that Spacelab was their best mission and I think it was because of the time spent on board and the science they could do. But they will be best remembered for Apollo 12, I think. Farewell, Beano (and Pete and Dick).

Left to right: Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon and Alan Bean. (Photo: ©NASA)
With Bean's passing there are just four men left now that have walked on the Moon. Dave Scott (85), Charlie Duke (82), Harrisson Schmitt (82) and of course Buzz Aldrin (88). I am afraid that no one of these fine gentlemen will live to see the next person walk on the moon. And I think that is a shame.

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