Valve's Gabe Newell is launching a garden gnome into space for a children's charity.
You may have completed the difficult task of launching Gnome Chompski the garden gnome into space in Half-Life 2: Episode 2, but now the little fella will head to space IRL. Newell is working with Weta Workshop, a collectible design and manufacturing company, and Rocket Lab, a small satellite launch company to send the Gnome into the stratosphere.
For every person who watches Gnome Chompski get blasted into space live or within a day of the launch, Newell will donate one dollar to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Starship, a children's hospital in New Zealand. The launch will take place sometime within 14 days of November 15 on Rocket Lab's live stream site (opens in new tab) (you can track the launching time here (opens in new tab)).
Chompski will be launched as part of a "rideshare mission" Kick Stage from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. Kick Stage can reorient and deorbit itself post launch, which means it can re-enter the atmosphere and burn up without a trace. Environmentally friendly, but definitely not gnome friendly - Newell admits Gnome Chompski's chances of survival are "grim."
Gnome Chompski was originally introduced to the world as a garden gnome prop in Half-Life 2: Episode Two. If you carry him all the way to the end of the game (no easy task) and then launch him into space, you'll earn the "Little Rocket Man" achievement. But now, Gnome Chompski is getting a chance to go into space for real, although he'll likely die during the mission.
It's great to see that a Half-Life 2 character is being used to help raise money for a children's hospital. As Noam Chomsky would say: “We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas.” This is certainly a good idea.