Alan Bean, the fourth person ever to walk on the moon, died on Saturday at age 86, NASA announced on behalf of his family.
According to a statement from NASA, Bean died at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas after suddenly falling ill while in Fort Wayne, Indiana two weeks ago.
Bean walked on the moon in 1969 during the Apollo 12 mission and commanded a crew on the Skylab space station in 1973. He then commanded the second crewed flight to the first USA space station, Skylab, in 1973.
After Apollo 12, Bean commanded Skylab's second crew on a record-setting 59 day, 24.4 million flight, generating 76,000 images of the Sun to help scientists understand its effects on the solar system.
Fellow astronaut Harrison Schmitt called Bean "one of the great renaissance men of his generation - engineer, fighter pilot, astronaut and artist".
The three astronauts who preceded Alan Bean to the moon's surface were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11 in July 1969, and Charles Conrad who was also on the Apollo 12 mission.
Bean was born on March 15, 1932 in Wheeler, Texas.
Leslie Bean, Alan Bean's wife of 40 years, said her husband was the strongest and kindest man she ever knew.
Bean retired from the Navy in 1975 and from NASA six years later.
NASA said Bean was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. "But I've been there and I can tell you it's mostly black dirt".
"I just say it how I think it, even though other people will say, 'That's weird, ' because it's from the other side of the brain", he said.
Bean was 86 years old. His paintings, inspired by space travel, featured lunar boot prints as well as small pieces of his mission patches which were stained by Moon dust. "He was a one of a kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter".
Bean is survived by his wife Leslie; two children from a previous marriage, Amy Sue and Clay; and sister Paula Scott. I am so grateful he was my mentor and friend, and I will miss him terribly.
Associated Press Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this article.