Today we say farewell to Alan Bean, aviator, moonwalker, and artist, dead at 86. The date also reminds us of the loss of his fellow explorer, Sally Ride, who would have been 67 years old today.
Bean, uniquely among the moonwalkers, was an artist in his space time. After retiring from NASA, he took up painting full-time. John Glenn said, "He saw the same monochromatic world everyone else did. But he, with his artist's eye, was able to see the intrinsic beauty." I won't post any images of his paintings here, due to copyright, but they are amazing, many with the marks of the rock hammer and a mold of a boot he wore on the moon.
See them on his website here.
His NASA biography is here.
Sally needs no introduction: the first American woman in space, and the first woman ever whose flight was earned and not a propaganda stunt (with all due respect to the courage of the two Soviets who preceded her, they were sent up to upstage rival America.) Post-NASA, she dedicated herself to science education and died of cancer in 2012.
Her official NASA biography is here.
With apologies to Willie Nelson:
My heroes have always been astros
And they still are, it seems
Forever in search of
And one step ahead of
The world and its best hopes and dreams.