Bean and Conrad spent seven hours and 45 minutes walking on the moon during two excursions, collecting about 75 pounds of lunar rocks and soil, along with components from the Surveyor lander.
They blasted off on Nov. 20, one day after landing, rejoining Gordon aboard the command module Yankee Clipper for the trip back to Earth.
“Our ascent (from the surface) was like six minutes and three seconds,” Bean said. “I can remember thinking, I hope this engine runs for six minutes and three seconds! You didn’t have much instrumentation on it because there was nothing you could do about it if it didn’t. … Your life’s on the line. If it doesn’t work, you’re cooked.”
But it did work, and the Apollo 12 crew safely returned to Earth, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on Nov. 24, 1969.
NASA would launch another five Apollo missions, but Bean never got another chance to visit the moon.
But he did get a chance to return to space, serving as commander of the second three-man Skylab space station crew in 1973, logging a then-record 59 days in orbit. His final flight assignment at NASA was backup commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.
Bean retired from the Navy that same year but continued to serve as head of the Astronaut Candidate Operations and Training Group at the Johnson Space Center Houston before retiring from NASA in 1981 to pursue his painting career full time.
“His decision was based on the fact that, in his 18 years as an astronaut, he was fortunate enough to visit worlds and see sights no artist’s eye, past or present, has ever viewed firsthand,” NASA said in a 1993 biography.
“He hopes to express these experiences through the medium of art. He is pursuing this dream at his home and studio in Houston.”
Bean logged 1,671 hours and 45 minutes in space, including 10 hours and 26 minutes spacewalking on the moon or in Earth orbit.
He logged more than 7,145 hours flying time in a variety of aircraft, including 4,850 hours in jets.
“I became an astronaut because they were flying higher and faster and further than anything else,” Bean said. “So I didn’t do it to be an explorer. I did it to be a pilot and do these amazing flying things.”
He is survived by his wife Leslie, his sister Paula Stott, and two children from an earlier marriage, Amy and Clay.