Alan Shepard’s wife Louise was elated after watching on TV as Shepard boarded a Navy ship bound for Houston, where he would be safe behind the glass windows of the post-flight quarantine room.
Gradually, as Mitchell worked and glanced at the bright crescent, he was filled with a quiet euphoria, great tranquillity, and an overpowering sense of understanding. It was as if he had suddenly begun to hear a new language, one being spoken by the universe itself.
Would the docking probe that caused so much difficulty a week ago during the first docking work now or would Shepard and Mitchell be forced into a space walk in Lunar orbit?
141:45:30 Shepard: Okay. The abort stage is set. Ascent Engine is Armed. 6, 5, 4…
141:45:38 Mitchell: Proceed with the ignition program
141:45:38 Shepard: …3, 2, 1, 0…
141:45:42 Mitchell: Ignition.
141:45:43 Shepard: We have ignition…
141:45:44 Mitchell: What a lift-off!
With the Hycon camera down, Roosa would have to step in and use a Hasselblad with a 500 mm lens, to take detailed photos of the Apollo 16 potential landing site. If Roosa did nothing else, he had to return to earth with pictures of Descartes that would be good enough to plan a lunar landing.
The first extended use of the Service Propulsion System engine on the Command and Service module was for the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) burn.
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.
“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)