In what is undoubtedly the most pleasantly bizarre press release we have received this year, Valve founder Gabe Newell has announced plans to launch an actual garden gnome into space. Working with Rocket Lab, Newell plans to donate one dollar to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at New Zealand’s Starship Children’s Hospital for every viewer who tunes in for the launch.
Newell has spent most of this year in Auckland, New Zealand, and this charity event is part of his ongoing efforts to “help the economy and community that sheltered him”, according to the press release. It goes on: “Newell would like the good people of New Zealand, global leaders of living in New Zealand, to know that his eccentric attempts at charity are largely harmless and pose no immediate threat to their way of life.”
Rocket Lab will be using Electron’s Kick Stage to deliver the 150mm titanium garden gnome into orbit. The gnome itself has been manufactured by Wellington’s Weta Workshop, the studio behind many of the makeup effects, weapons, and creatures featured in The Lord of the Rings films. The rocket has the ability to reorient itself and leave orbit to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, leaving Half-Life 2’s Gnome Chompski to sail through space on his own.
This is, after all, the joke: to earn the achievement ‘Little Rocket Man’ in Half-Life 2, players had to carry the Garden Gnome object – known to the community as Gnome Chompski – from the communications building all the way to the end of the game and place it inside a rocket capsule. Newell apparently plans to do exactly this.
Newell will count every viewer who tunes in to the Rocket Lab livestream or watches it within 24 hours of launch when he figures out his total donation to the Starship Children’s Hospital. The rocket will take off from Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand, at some point during the two-week launch window that opens November 15. You can check the timing for the mission at Rocket Lab’s official site.
While you wait, pop in some David Bowie and try out some of our favourite space games. Godspeed, Gnome Chompski. May you find yourself a better world; you were too good for this one.
Top image via Reddit