Safe landing and preparing for lift-off

Sean Orlando in the belly of the beast
Sean Orlando in the belly of the beast

Sean Orlando and the Raygun Gothic Rocketship had a safe landing in the desert early Monday morning. Two semis and an accompanying truck hauled the gleaming piece up from the Bay Area, and it was assembled in the beautiful light of the late afternoon.

It’s a massive thing, weighing close to 5,000 pounds, and there isn’t a more unlikely object to be found on the playa. The rocket is covered with a gleaming silver metal skin, which was stretched on an English wheel and pressed into place by hand.

rocket-ship-aug-24-2Sean of course is the man behind last year’s Steampunk Treehouse, which, incredibly, is NOT on display publicly right now. Sean says there’s an organization in Delaware that is negotiating rights to exhibit the piece, and he’s hopeful that the Rocket Ship will wind up on the Embarcadero in San Francisco after the burn.

It was amazing to watch the pieces come together for the first time yesterday. The ship had never been assembled before, and of course there was a fair amount of last-minute improvisation going on to get it upright on the playa. The crew watched arm in arm as a crane slowly raised the pieces into position.

There are three chambers to the rocket. One includes the living quarters, navigation and communications equipment. Another will feature an alien specimen lab and various alien life forms,  including a sculpture from Barbara that honors the memory of longtime Burner and artist Tom Kennedy. The piece references three of Kennedy’s art cars — Ripper the Shark, the Whale Car and the One-Eyed Wonder.

Dozens of artists collaborated on the design and interactive stuff on the inside of the rocket. There’s a denseness to it all; layer after layer of interest. “I hope it’s not too busy,” Sean said. Not to worry. There will be plenty to do after liftoff.

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About the author: John Curley

John Curley has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 he spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. John is a longtime newspaper person and spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was a deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since leaving the Chronicle in 2007, he was a contributing editor on Blue Planet Run, a book about the world's water crisis, and for the past two years has been a lecturer at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. He has also started an event and editorial photography business, and is also working on a book about the "Ten Dollar Doc" from Arco, Idaho, which will make a lovely film someday.

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