San Francisco's Rocket Ship Prepares for Blast Off

Rocket ship was originally designed for Burning Man

Ignition. Three, two, one... blast off!

One of San Francisco's most beloved pieces of public art is heading off to the firmament in search of new uncharted territory.

The art group Five Ton Crane is removing its beloved rocket ship art installation from the Embarcadero this weekend.

The popular aluminum rocket starred in about a gazillion photos during its two year stint on the Embarcadero. Originally scheduled to remain a year, the Port of San Francisco extended its stay several times because of its popularity.

"I think for most people, it's really just fun," said David Shulman, one of the rocket's builders.

The artists originally built the rocket for the Burning Man arts festival, and even claim they successfully launched it a foot off the ground (the claims are somewhat dubious since the supposed liftoff was shrouded in fireworks, and the fact it doesn't have an actual engine).

But its presence just south of the Ferry Building was a genuine surprise to countless visitors who chanced upon it.

"People come by when we're out doing maintenance," said Shulman. "They want to tell stories of the rocket ships they played with as a kid or their grandfather telling stories about early science fiction."

Exactly where the rocket is heading next is still unknown.

For now, Shulman said the group will haul it to its Oakland studio for a good cleaning.

It's searching for another destination for the ship to land.

The Port hasn't yet said what it plans to install at the site, which has been home to other temporary art installations including a giant spider and two towering figures made of scrap metal parts.

Shulman said the rocket ship is another success story in the push to install temporary art pieces around San Francisco.

"People see things come and go and they realize it doesn't have to be permanent," said Shulman. "So let's take a chance and if we don't like it it'll come down in a year or two."

The artists were planning to toast the rocket with a Friday night blowout on the Embarcadero, before cranking up the launch pad Saturday morning.

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