Billionaire sends gnome to space for New Zealand charity, thanks country for hospitality during pandemic

Billionaire and Valve CEO Gabe Newell says he will donate $1 to a New Zealand children’s hospital for every person who watches the rocket launch

A gnome is being sent into space -- for charity. 

On Monday, aerospace company Rocket Lab announced that a gnome made by billionaire and CEO Gabe Newell would be launched into space in mid-November.

Newell has pledged to donate $1 for every person who watches the launch live to the Starship Children’s Hospital PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit), in Auckland, New Zealand, according to the announcement. 

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Business Insider reported that Newell announced the charity initiative as a way to thank New Zealand for the country’s hospitality while he stayed there during the pandemic.

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The 6-inch gnome will be 3D printed by Weta Workshop -- a New Zealand-based special effects and prop company famous for its work on “The Lord of the Rings” and “Avatar” -- and will be modeled after Gnome Chompski, an icon in the video game “Half-Life” which is created by Newell’s software company Valve.

The gnome (not pictured) will be modeled after an icon in the video game "Half Live." (iStock)

The gnome (not pictured) will be modeled after an icon in the video game "Half Live." (iStock)

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Aside from the gnome, Rocket Lab will be sending “a diverse range of payloads” from the U.S., France and New Zealand, according to the announcement. 

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In total, Rocket Lab will be bringing 30 satellites into space including maritime surveillance, communications satellites and the first student-built satellite from New Zealand, the announcement said. 

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