American billionaire game developer Gabe Newell, who has been in New Zealand since before the Covid-19 pandemic began, is sending a gnome figurine to space aboard a Rocket Lab launch.
Rocket Lab said today that a small 3D-printed figurine of 'Gnome Chompski' - a character which featured in Newell's hit game Half-Life 2 - will be aboard the 16th launch of Rocket Lab's Electron rocket on November 16.
The titanium figurine was created at Weta Workshop and is described by Rocket Lab as a "mass simulator".
"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," Rocket Lab said.
"Valve president Gabe Newell will be donating one dollar to the paediatric intensive care unit at Starship Children's Hospital for every person who watches the launch online."
Gnome Chompski will remain attached to the Rocket Lab spacecraft and burn up on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.
Newell has been in New Zealand since the beginning of the year, and during his time here has enlisted a Kiwi drift champion for his Heart of Racing team.
He also confirmed last month that he is in the process of applying for residency in New Zealand, which would make him one of the country's richest people.
Live video of the launch will be available on November 16 here.