It is done. Gnome Chompski has shot off to where gnome man has gone before. The little red-hatted fella started life as a bit of a joke in Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Players who carried the garden gnome all the way to the end of the game would be awarded with the achievement “Little Rocket Man” – a title old Chompski truly lived up to last night.
Gabe Newell partnered up with Weta Workshop and Rocket Lab to send a real-life Chompski into space, raising money for charity and even inspiring a couple of new Steam achievements in the process.
You can watch the video of the launch below (skip ahead to 30 mins to get to the good bit).
The 150mm titanium gnome affixed to this rocket was created by Weta Workshop (who’ve previously made props and set for the likes of Lord Of The Rings). Rocket Lab say the hardened garden decoration will be coming back down to Earth, but will sadly burn up on entry. Like a space-viking funeral. His death will not be in vain, however, because Rocket Lab will be using data on his re-entry into the atmosphere to inform future missions (though it’s unclear when the rocket will be making its return).
A homage to Chompski’s adventure has already been added to Left 4 Dead 2, Half-Life: Alyx and Half-Life 2: Episode 2 in the form of a new achievement, too. It’s called Gnome Alone, with the description: “If you are reading this achievement, Gabe Newell has successfully launched Gnome Chompski into space.”
This wasn’t all for lols, though. Newell plans on donating $1 for every person who watches the video within 24 hours of the launch to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Starship children’s hospital in Auckland, New Zealand. That means you still have until about 1:40am GMT tonight (5:40pm PST today) to boost the views on the vid above, and get Gabe digging in his pockets for a good cause.
Sending a garden ornament to space for charity and for science. Go big or go gnome, I suppose.