Gabe Newell is sending a garden gnome into outer space

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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.

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