Astronaut Alan Bean had an illustrious career with NASA, but then he threw it all away to pursue a radically different direction.
The year is 1965, the date November 14. A violent rainstorm sweeps across the Kennedy Space Center in Florida just as Apollo 12 is due to launch, bound for the Moon. As it heads towards the sky, a flash of lightning travels right through the rocket, swiftly followed by a second strike. Our story is about one of those aboard the ship: Alan Bean. He might well have wondered if his spacecraft would ever reach its destination.
So who was this Alan Bean and how come he ended up on one of NASA’s Apollo missions to the Moon? Entering the world in March 1932, Alan LaVern Bean’s birthplace was the city of Wheeler in the Texas Panhandle. His father, Arnold, came from Michigan and had married his mother, Frances, in 1930. Bean’s sister Paula, two years younger than him, completed the family.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture employed Bean’s dad as a scientist. His work, surveying Texas rivers for likely spots to build flood-control dams, meant that the family moved around a fair amount when Ben was a youngster. But by the time Bean had started at junior high, the family had settled in Fort Worth.