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Alan Bean at Apollo 12

Alan Bean at Apollo 12 (Space)

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Alan LaVern Bean (born Mar. 15, 1932 (88 years ago)) is a former NASA astronaut and engineer, and became the fourth person to walk on the moon at the age of thirty-seven years in Nov. 1969 (51 years ago).

Biography

Bean was born in Wheeler in the northeastern Texas Panhandle. He is of Scottish descent. As a boy, he lived in Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana, where his father worked for the Soil Conservation Service. Bean graduated from R. L. Paschal High School in Fort Worth, Texas. He received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1955 (65 years ago). At UT he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Omega Chi chapter). After a four year tour as a fighter pilot assigned to a jet attack squadron in Jacksonville, Fla., he trained as a Navy Test Pilot where his instructor was his future Apollo 12 Commander Pete Conrad. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of science from Texas Wesleyan College in 1972 (48 years ago), and was presented an honorary doctorate of engineering science degree from the University of Akron (Ohio) in 1974 (46 years ago).

NASA experience

Apollo

Bean was selected by NASA as part of group 3 in 1963 (57 years ago). He was selected to be the backup Command Pilot for Gemini 10 but was unsuccessful in securing an early Apollo flight assignment. He was placed in the Apollo Applications Program in the interim. When fellow astronaut Clifton Williams was killed in an air crash, a space was opened for Bean on the back-up crew for Apollo 9. Apollo 12 Commander Conrad, who had instructed Bean at the Naval Flight Test School years before, personally requested Bean to replace Williams.

Bean was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, the second lunar landing. In Nov. 1969 (51 years ago), Al Bean and Pete Conrad landed in the moon's Ocean of Storms—after a flight of 250,000 miles and a launch that included a harrowing lightning strike. Bean was the astronaut who executed John Aaron's famous "Flight, try SCE to 'Aux'" instruction to restore telemetry after the spacecraft was struck by lightning 36 seconds after launch, thus salvaging the mission. They explored the lunar surface, deployed several lunar surface experiments, and installed the first nuclear power generator station on the moon to provide the power source. Dick Gordon remained in lunar orbit photographing landing sites for future missions.

Skylab

Bean was also the spacecraft commander of Skylab 3, the second manned mission to Skylab, Jul. 29, 1973 (47 years ago) to sep. 25, 1973 (47 years ago). With him on the 59-day, 24,400,000 mile world record setting flight were scientist-astronaut Dr. Owen Garriott and Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Jack Lousma. During the mission Bean also tested a prototype of the Manned Maneuvering Unit and performed one space walk outside the Skylab.

Post-flight experience

On his next assignment, Bean was backup spacecraft commander of the United States flight crew for the joint American-Russian Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

Bean retired from the Navy in Oct. 1975 (45 years ago) as a Captain but continued as head of the Astronaut Candidate Operations and Training Group within the Astronaut Office in a civilian capacity.

Books

Apollo: An Eyewitness Account (with Andrew Chaikin) (1998, 22 years ago)
Mission Control, This is Apollo: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon (with Andrew Chaikin) (forthcoming, 2009 (11 years ago))
Alan Bean: Painting Apollo (forthcoming, 2009 (11 years ago))
Bean's in-flight Skylab diary is featured in "Homesteading Space," a history of the Skylab program coauthored with fellow astronauts Joseph Kerwin and Owen Garriott and published in 2008 (12 years ago).


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