Suddenly the caution lights went out and the radar signals began to transmit. Within seconds the astronauts could see that its data was good. Seconds later in mission control, a jubilant Will Presley shouted, “Flight, we got radar lockup!”
While checking the lander’s guidance software, during a final practice run for the landing, engineers in mission control detected that the computer was receiving an errant signal from the abort pushbutton.
Mitchell kept his plan a secret from NASA, knowing that the agency would be completely unreceptive to the idea. He said nothing about it to his crewmates. The test subjects had also agreed to keep quiet.
Docking was a delicate maneuver, since both ships were traveling at nearly five miles per second, but the docking mechanism itself was one of the simplest on the entire spacecraft, and the docking procedure had been perfected on previous Apollo flights, none of which experienced any significant problems with docking.
“The approaching dusk and the damp mistiness left by the now-departed rainstorm only enhanced the spectacular sight and the sound of the launch. Tentacles of flame erupted on either side of the bottom of the Saturn V, which seemed to sit in its own cauldron of fire momentarily before breaking free of its shackles, as four hold-down arms at the base of the launch pad and five access arms along the outside of the booster swung away.” (Smoke Jumper, Moon Pilot by Willie Moseley)
The first launch window for Apollo 14 began at 15:23, Eastern Standard Time, 31 January 1971, and lasted almost four hours.
On November 9, 1970, the Apollo 14/Saturn V assembly, as tall as a 36-story building, rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building on the proportionally huge crawler transporter.