The machine-like performance of flight crew and ground controllers continued. Each participant was in perfect harmony with the other, moving to a cadence dictated by the laws of physics and the clock.
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.
Even with all the problems, Shepard piloted the Lunar Module Antares to the most accurate landing of the entire Apollo program. Shepard became the fifth and, at the age of 47, the oldest man to walk on the Moon, and the only one of the Mercury Seven astronauts to do so.
After the Mercury-Atlas 10 mission was canceled, Shepard was designated as the Commander of the first crewed Gemini mission, with Thomas P. Stafford chosen as his pilot.
On January 19, 1961, Robert R. Gilruth, the director of NASA’s Space Task Group, informed the seven astronauts that Shepard had been chosen for the first American crewed mission into space.