The West Australian - - INSIDE COVER -

As­tro­naut Alan Bean be­came the fourth per­son to set foot on the Moon as part of NASA’s Apollo 12 mis­sion in 1969, just a few months af­ter the feat was first and most fa­mously ac­com­plished by Neil Arm­strong and Buzz Aldrin.

Bean died re­cently, aged 86, and his pass­ing was mourned by the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity, space afi­ciona­dos in the gen­eral public and an aca­demic in Perth, who had be­come his pen pal in re­cent years.

Univer­sity of WA ad­junct pro­fes­sor Brian O’Brien’s as­so­ci­a­tion with the Moon dates back as far as Bean’s, with O’Brien ac­tu­ally lec­tur­ing NASA’s as­tro­naut class of 1964 — which in­cluded Bean, Aldrin and Arm­strong — on the up­per at­mos­phere and ra­di­a­tion be­fore they went into space.

O’Brien also won a global com­pe­ti­tion to de­sign ex­per­i­ments for NASA’s lu­nar pro­gram, in­vent­ing a match­box-sized dust de­tec­tor that was in­stalled on the Moon’s sur­face by Aldrin dur­ing the Apollo 11 mis­sion.

O’Brien told In­side Cover that Bean was some­one who “told it as it was” and was “of great and will­ing pro­fes­sional help” when it came to pro­mot­ing the dan­ger lu­nar dust posed to as­tro­nauts and equip­ment on the Moon.

In fact, Bean recog­nised the dust dan­ger dur­ing his first moon­walk.

“This (lu­nar dust) is go­ing to be a real prob­lem,” Bean was recorded say­ing dur­ing his first ex­trave­hic­u­lar ac­tiv­ity. “Every­thing that touches the ground picks it up ... Uh-oh.”

Lu­nar dust is fine, like tal­cum pow­der, yet sharp as glass, and O’Brien said Bean’s quotes from the sur­face of the Moon were vi­tal in com­pre­hend­ing the chal­lenge it presents.

“I will greatly miss Alan’s solid en­cour­age­ment for my dust dis­cov­er­ies over the years, and his ever-pos­i­tive friend­ship,” O’Brien said.


The wounds are still fresh from Rugby Aus­tralia’s de­ci­sion last year to axe the Western Force from Su­per Rugby in­stead of the Melbourne Rebels.

So, it’s no sur­prise to hear Rebels club of­fi­cials are wor­ried next Satur­day’s clash with the Force at nib Sta­dium, as part of An­drew For­rest’s World Se­ries Rugby com­pe­ti­tion, could de­gen­er­ate into a grudge match.

IC un­der­stands the Rebels were so con­cerned about this pos­si­bil­ity that Force chief ex­ec­u­tive Nick Marvin took the un­usual step of pub­lish­ing a let­ter of “good­will” on the Force web­site.

We have no doubt the game will be played in the right spirit, but we sure hope a packed nib gives the Rebels heaps.

As­tro­naut Alan Bean.

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