Gaben a.k.a Gabe Newell is launching a garden gnome for charity.
Newell will donate one dollar to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Starship, Children’s Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, for every person watching the gnome launch online (live or within 24 hours of launch). Newell has been living in the country since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Valve says Newell’s purpose to stay in New Zealand was to visit friends at the Weta Workshop and Rocket Lab, the two companies that are helping with the project. Weta is designing a gnome that “will be made of titanium and printed in the form of the Gnome Chompski Half-Life gaming symbol,” Valve says. Gnome Chompski is a garden gnome prop that originally appeared in Half-Life 2: Episode Two, and whose fame derives from the fact that if you take it all the way to the end of the game and launch it into space (a very difficult thing to do), you get the “Little Rocket Man” achievement.
Rocket Lab (which carries out both U.S. military and commercial launches) launches Chompski “as part of a ride-around mission” from Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand. The launch will take place at some point within 14 days of November 16 NZT. After depositing 30 satellites in space, the rocket is designed to redirect itself into orbit and re-enter the atmosphere in such a way that it burns completely, making Gnome Chompski’s chances of survival “grim,” says Newell.
According to Rocket Lab, “The project acts as a tribute to the ingenuity and imagination of gamers around the world and also aims to test and qualify a novel 3D printing technique that could be used for potential spacecraft parts.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Newell has “called his temporary home to Auckland, searching for a way to support the economy and the culture that sheltered him (or at least hasn’t pushed him out yet),” Valve says. “Newell would like the good people of New Zealand, the world leaders of living in New Zealand, to know that his unconventional efforts at the charity are largely harmless and do not pose an immediate threat to their way of life.”
You can monitor the launch timing on the Rocket Lab website, which is also where it will be live-streamed.