Attended Navy Test Pilot School and served as a test pilot for several types of Naval aircraft.
Selected by NASA in 1963 as apart of its third group of astronauts. Bean served on the backup crews for Gemini 10 and Apollo 9 and was later selected to be the lunar module pilot for Apollo 12.
Shortly after the Apollo 12 liftoff, the Saturn V booster was struck by lightning twice which turned off the spacecraft’s fuel cells. A quick-thinking ground controller asked the crew to throw an obscure switch, and Bean with his legendary attention to detail knew where the switch was located and quickly brought the fuel cells back on line.
On November 19, 1969, Bean, with Navy Capt. Pete Conrad, commander of the mission, made a pinpoint landing in the moon’s Ocean of Storms, only a few hundred feet from the Surveyor III probe. Bean and Conrad made two moonwalks, spending a total of almost eight hours walking on the lunar surface. The pair deployed a number of lunar surface experiments, and installed the first nuclear power generator station on the moon.
In 1973, Bean returned to space as commander of Skylab 3- the second manned mission to the United States’ first space station.
Retiring from the Navy in 1973, he stayed on with NASA as the head of the Astronaut Candidate Operations and Training Group. Not long after the first launch of the space shuttle in 1981, Bean resigned from NASA to devote himself to painting.
His works incorporate tiny flecks of lunar soil that were embedded in patches from his lunar space suit, and Bean has used a lunar overshoe to leave distinctive patterns in his paintings. His artwork has been widely published and displayed in museums and art galleries around the world.
Bean has flown 27 types of aircraft, civilian and military, and logged more than 7,000 hours of flight time, including 4,890 hours in jet aircraft. In his two space flights, Bean logged 1,671 hours, 45 minutes in space, including more than 10 hours of time in EVAs.