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A rocket is a large, often multi-stage launch vehicle, used to deliver a payload to a wide variety of planetary and orbital destinations. On at least two occasions, Black Mesa has used rockets to deliver satellites to orbit. Each of these plays a large role in the storyline where it appears, usually as a means of attempting to solve the overarching problem of the plot.



During the Black Mesa Incident several scientists at the facility prepare to launch a Satellite Delivery Rocket in an attempt to close the dimensional rift, only to be stopped by HECU personnel, leaving Gordon Freeman to complete the task himself. Gordon manages to take down the soldiers and launch the rocket, delivering the satellite and successfully closing the portal to Xen. However, it's later revealed that though the satellite did manage to close the rift on their side, it's still being held open on the other side by a powerful being, later revealed to be Nihilanth.

Two more rockets are encountered later in the chapter Surface Tension, located in a large warehouse booby-trapped with many trip mines. If a single mine is detonated a catastrophic explosion will happen, resulting in a game-over.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[]

After Gordon and Alyx's escape from City 17 and the Citadel's collapse, Alyx attempted to make contact with White Forest to tell them about the codes she retrieved in the Citadel and the situation of the Superportal. Dr. Magnusson orders them to get to White Forest Base as soon as possible, believing that the codes Alyx is carrying can be used to close the Superportal via a rocket the base had been preparing for some time. Upon arrival to the base, Alyx and Gordon are put to work preparing the rocket for launch, and even defending the base from the weakened Combine's attempts to stop the launch. When all is safe, and the rocket is fully prepared, Gordon receives the honor of launching the rocket and finally closing the Superportal and the last remaining link to the Combine Overworld. It may also be noted that Dr. Kleiner reported before launch that the rocket had a payload anomaly of 8 lbs. Earlier in the silo chamber Lamarr can be seen crawling into the hatch on the rocket. The player has the opportunity to close the hatch with Lamarr inside. Given that the satellite has no life support equipment, it can therefore be assumed that Lamarr will eventually die.

Behind the scenes[]

  • According to Matt Wright, the team designed Magnusson's rocket around blueprints from the Titan family of missiles instead of just making up something that fit their fantasies of a rocket. He adds that grounding the details of their world in reality, making them as precise as possible, makes the invented, fantastic elements seem that much more believable.[1] (It's debatable how closely the team made use of their references; while Magnusson's rocket looks vaguely like a Titan-II around the nose, it is much shorter, and all members of the Titan family employed the twin-motor LR-87 first-stage engine, which had only two nozzles.)



  • In both Half-Life and Half-Life 2: Episode 2, the reason for launching the rocket is remarkably similar—to close a portal being used to transport aliens to Earth from another realm.
  • The designs of both rockets are also strikingly similar, with the exception of some color and accent differences and slightly different nose cones.


  • Written in small letters on the rocket is the NASA logo. If not an Easter egg, this may suggest that the American space agency was involved in the rocket's design and development.
    • The Black Mesa rocket (very vaguely) resembles an early Delta II rocket, albeit a considerably shortened one. The Delta II family entered service in 1989, and the NASA "worm" logo seen on the Black Mesa rocket was discontinued for almost all purposes in 1992, so it's possible that the Black Mesa rocket is an early Delta II obtained from NASA, and presumably shortened afterward.
    • There's also a written "USAF" (United States Air Force) on the rocket.
  • When the rocket is seen inside the silo, it's lacking its bottom jets.
  • Since the blast doors to the silo can't be seen from the control room they don't have a choreographed opening, so the rocket simply passes through it.
  • In the warehouse full of tripmines, if player activates the "GOD" cheat (god mode) and sets off a mine, the game will still fail and the white screen can been seen, but it will not display the game-over text.

Half-Life 2: Episode 2[]

  • If a Strider manages to reach the silo and destroy the rocket all of White Forest will be destroyed.
    • Given the aftermath of the 1980 incident in which a Titan II exploded in its silo outside Damascus, Arkansas, this is reasonably plausible. On the other hand, the shortened rocket seen in the game wouldn't contain nearly the same volume of fuel and oxidizer as that involved in the 1980 incident, with a concomitant reduction in scale of the rocket explosion and the resulting clouds of toxic vapor.
  • The achievement "Little Rocket Man" requires Gordon put a garden gnome in the rocket with Lamarr.


Half-Life and its expansions[]

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[]

List of appearances[]