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Black Mesa satellite

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This subject is related to the Black Mesa Incident era.
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Questionmark.svg The title of this article is unofficial.

Although this article is based on official information, the actual name of this subject was created for the wiki.

This article is about the Black Mesa device. For the Resistance device featured in Half-Life 2: Episode Two, see White Forest satellite.

C2a2h rocket.jpg
Black Mesa satellite
General information

Black Mesa



A satellite is used by the Black Mesa Science Team in their efforts to halt the alien invasion. It is featured in Half-Life and its expansion Decay.



The science team at the Lambda Complex needed a satellite in orbit to end the alien intrusion from Xen. As the military had aborted the initial attempt, Gordon Freeman is sent to the High Altitude Launch Center to launch the satellite delivery rocket himself. The purpose of the satellite was later elaborated upon in the expansion, Decay.

Half-Life: Decay[edit]

It is explained that the satellite controls major recovery systems of the facility,[1] and it must be in orbit for them to operate.[2] The science team wants to use the satellite to orchestrate a resonance reversal which would seal the dimensional rift between the worlds. The rocket cannot launch without the all-clear codes, so Gina Cross and Colette Green are sent to the Level 3 Dormitories by Dr. Keller to find a security guard who knows the codes. Afterwards, they travel to the Black Mesa Air Control building so that they can set the air space monitor to send the codes, allowing Gordon to launch the rocket.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[edit]

The satellite launch sequence is mirrored in Episode Two. Alyx Vance states that Dr. Magnusson wanted to use a different satellite located at the White Forest base to tune into the old array the science team had set up at Black Mesa, but he was unable to due to the threat of the Combine. The satellite launched by Gordon in Half-Life is part of this pre-existing array. Eventually, the rebels are successful in launching the satellite to shut down the superportal.

Behind the scenes[edit]


The satellite was to have a more involved role in the storyline. It was to be explained that a satellite array had to be active in order to tune the Lambda portal. One section of the array was in the Lambda core, one was the satellite now in Earth's orbit after being launched by Gordon, and one was in Xen activated by Barney as seen in Blue Shift.[3] Furthermore, the player was meant to align a satellite dish at Black Mesa to tune in to the orbiting satellite in the cut chapter Communications Center. This sequence was recycled for Uplink.[4]

The holographic globe displaying the satellite array.

The holographic globe at the launch center is believed to be a leftover from this incarnation of the story. It displays the status of the satellite portal array which, in the final game, is always shown as being offline. It features two satellites circling around the globe and a static satellite stationed near the north pole. There are two unused variations of the globe found in Half-Life: Source's files. online.vtf displays the status of the array as being online. activated.vtf displays the message "warning - xen portal: activated" and was possibly intended to be used in the chapter Lambda Core. A holographic table can be seen in one of the level plans.

A satellite referred to as the "Alpha Satellite" is mentioned in one of the automated announcements before the incident. Some of the locations mentioned in the announcements are visited by the player in the later chapters, so this may be the name of the launched satellite. The satellite was to be mentioned for the second time in another unused announcement in the chapter Lambda Core: "Satellite target system, engaged."

Half-Life: Decay[edit]

Originally, the satellite delivery rocket's all-clear codes were to be found in a mission set in the Central Transit Hub. The satellite is referred to as the "Omega Satellite" here. The science team at the Lambda Labs was to explain that something is holding the rift open by force from the other side and preventing them from stopping the alien invasion. They wished to use the satellite to get clean readings on the rift, but this plan was thwarted as the military shut down the launch. Gordon is sent to launch the rocket himself, but he won't be able to because of the system's emergency shut down. In order to override it, Gina and Colette need to find the all-clear codes kept at the Central Transit Hub and upload the signal to the Black Mesa air traffic systems. When this mission was cut, the additional backstory for the satellite was also excised.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[edit]

According to unused dialog from Dr. Kleiner in Episode Two, rather than shutting down the superportal, the original purpose of Magnusson's Xenium Resonator attached to the White Forest satellite was to create a barrier around the planet. Once in orbital range, the resonator was to activate the old satellite array, of which the rocket launched by Gordon is a part, and turn it into a shield with subdimensional properties. This would block the Combine's access to Earth even if they did manage to restore their portal network, barring them from the planet permanently.[5]


List of appearances[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. Half-Life: Decay, Domestic Violence briefing: "A satellite controls major recovery systems. Locate a security guard who knows the satellite signal codes."
  2. Half-Life: Decay, Code Green briefing: "A satellite must be in orbit for recovery systems to operate. Upload the satellite signal codes before the delivery rocket launches."
  3. Marc Laidlaw on the Black Mesa satellite array (September 26, 2003) (unverified)
  4. Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar (uncorrected proof), page 158
  5. Half-Life 2: Episode Two game files