Bean was selected by NASA as part of Astronaut Group 3 in 1963. He was selected to be the backup command pilot for Gemini 10.
When fellow astronaut Clifton Williams was killed in an air crash, a space was opened for Bean on the backup crew for Apollo 9.
Bean was also the spacecraft commander of Skylab 3, the second manned mission to Skylab, July 29 to September 25, 1973. With him on the 59-day, 24,400,000 mile world record setting flight were scientist-astronaut Dr. Owen Garriott and Marine Corps Colonel Jack R. Lousma. During the mission Bean tested a prototype of the Manned Maneuvering Unit and performed one spacewalk outside the Skylab.