Do you suppose Gabe Newell himself has earned the Half-Life 2: Episode 2 achievement for carrying a garden gnome to the end of the game? He's planning to snag a real-life achievement, apparently, and has partnered up with Rocket Lab to blast a real Gnome Chompski into space. Not for nothing, Newell is planning to donate to Starship Children's Hospital based on the number of folks to tune in to watch the launch.
The well-known gnome is being manufactured by Weta Workshop in New Zealand, where Newell has been hanging out during the covid-19 pandemic. "The tiny astronaut will be manufactured from titanium and printed in the shape of Half-Life gaming icon Gnome Chompski," Valve say. "The 150 mm gnome will be integrated with Electron's Kick Stage, designed to deliver small satellites into precise orbits, and launched as part of a rideshare mission from Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand".
"The mission serves as an homage to the innovation and creativity of gamers worldwide, and also aims to test and qualify a novel 3D printing technique that could be employed for future spacecraft components," say Rocket Labs.
Chompski the garden gnome was also launched into Half-Life: Alyx, though I don't think he made it on-screen during RPS's vidbud playthrough, alas. Perhaps keener eyes than mine can spot him in Russel's courtyard.
As for the charity bit, Newell says he'll donate to the Starship Children's Hospital in New Zealand. "Newell, an emerging global leader in convincing Rocket Lab to launch things into space, will be donating one dollar to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Starship for every person who watches the launch online [...] either live or within 24 hours of launch," say Valve.
If you want to be part of the Chompski headcount, you can watch on Rocket Lab's site. For timing information when available, check out the mission page, which says that Flight 16's launch window is a 14 day period. It begins on November 15th, so the Chompski launch should be on or within two weeks of that date.
Unfortunately for Chompski, he's scheduled to burn up during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.
As they say, "SPAAACCCCCE!"