Black Mesa Research Facility

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The Black Mesa Research Facility, commonly shortened to "Black Mesa" or "The BMRF", is a fictional scientific research facility based in New Mexico, USA. It is the primary setting for the original Half-Life game and, by extension, the Black Mesa total conversion modification.

Map inbound1.jpg

The facility was formerly a missile launch & test complex in the New Mexico Desert. By the time Dr. Gordon Freeman arrives, the facility has expanded to become the sprawling complex of laboratories, offices and associated support facilities that are seen in the game. There are at least 6 missile silos in the complex, though most of them have been converted to serve a variety of other purposes.


The Black Mesa Research Facility is a center for research in a wide range of scientific disciplines. The facility also serves as a missile decommissioning complex (which may be a useful "front" for the more clandestine research operations). Due to the sensitive nature of the various operations carried out, it is sited many miles from any neighboring population centers. As a result the facility is completely autonomous, and is equipped with all of the support systems required by a small city in the middle of the desert.

Power is generated on-site, most visibly by a large hydro-electric plant. There is also evidence of a nuclear reactor system within the complex. The facility also handles all of its own waste - industrial, biological & 'scientific' waste as well as more typical household refuse - on site. Much of the site is air-conditioned, with duct-work visible throughout the facility. The staff population are served by cafeterias, lounges, physical training & recreational facilities, laundries and personal quarters. Staff families are also housed on site.

The main operational work of the facility is supported by extensive laboratory space, administrative offices and test areas. These areas - along with significant storage space, car parks, an arsenal and the rocket silos - form much of the remaining complex.

The facility is supplied by a freight rail link to the outside world.

An overview map of Black Mesa Research Facility As it apppeared in Half-life. Credit for the map belongs to Per "Sterd" Borgman.

Main Locations

Sector A - Training Facility

Sector A contains the "Hazard Course" used for training scientists and security guards.

Sector B - Coolant Reserve

The Coolant Reserve stores the industrial coolant used to maintain Black Mesa's thousands of computers and machines as well as the 'pleasant 68 degree' internal temperature. It is first seen by Gordon Freeman when he escapes from Sector C. The surface level of Sector B is now a Train Yard that is used to ship freight in and out of the facility over the New Mexico Railroad Line. This sector also contains the Area 2 Administration Offices.

Sector C - Test Labs and Control Facilities

Sector C is notable primarily for the Anomalous Materials Laboratories (the setting of the chapters Anomalous Materials and Unforeseen Consequences). This area contains the Anti-Mass Spectrometer (in Test Lab C-33/a). This is the place where Gordon Freeman works.

In addition the Anomalous Materials Laboratories, this sector also contains the High-Energy Particle Laboratories and Supercooled Laser Laboratory. The facility is adjacent to the High-Energy Particle Labs, and encompasses a central lobby, personnel facilities, video surveillance, and an armoury. The sector also contains the Level 3 Dormitories, where personnel (including Gordon Freeman) at Black Mesa Research Facility live.

Sector D - Administration

Sector D is mainly a large underground complex of Administration Offices. The Administration Offices are built beneath the surface's High Security Storage Facility, a large semi-subterranean warehouse made of interlocking Storage Areas. The lower levels of Sector D contain the Silo D Experimental Propulsion Laboratory, one of Black Mesa's many decommissioned missile silos which is used to test rocket engines.

Sector E - Biodome Complex

The Biodome Complex, a relatively new area of the facility (still under construction at the time of the Black Mesa Incident, as seen in Opposing Force), contains a series of Specimen Observation Areas where captured Xenian aliens are kept and observed in artificial recreations of their natural habitats. Alongside these enclosures are Specimen Containment Rooms where the aliens are studied in closer detail.

The lowest underground levels of Sector E contain the Hydrofauna Studies Laboratory where aquatic aliens are kept in older decommissioned areas. This sector also contains the Advanced Biological Research Lab seen in Half-Life, a smaller facility where the aliens are tested and dissected by an automated robotic Surgical Unit. The second level of the lab is used as an experimental weapons research lab, testing dangerous weapons such as the Gauss Gun and a large High-Powered Laser.

The other surface areas of Sector E form an Ordinance Storage Facility where vast amounts of ammunition and explosives are stored.

The surface of Sector E contains the bulk of Black Mesa's still-functional military facilities, including Helicopter Hangars, a Topside Armory and a Topside Barracks. The nearby Silo E High Altitude Launch Center acts as a fully-functional satellite delivery rocket lauchpad.

Finally, Sector E is the location of Black Mesa's various Waste Processing facilities, including the Biological Waste Processing Plant and Waste Processing Area 3.

Sector F - Lambda Complex

The heavily fortified Lambda Reactor Complex is the site of Black Mesa's top secret teleportation labs. The reactor is a huge device consisting of the Lambda Reactor Main Coolant System, and the cylindrical Lambda Reactor Core. The core of the reactor consists of four levels (Levels A-D) that fuel an extremely powerful portal-generation device on Level A, where survey teams are equipped and sent to Xen.

The Gamma Laboratories in Sector F were built later, as a means of capturing Xen specimens without risking casualties. These labs use a Prototype Displacement Beacon, which generates strong displacement fields and opens miniature dimensional rifts between Earth and Xen, for the safe and easy collection of alien life. Sector F is linked to the rest of the base via the Secured Access Lambda Sector Transport and the Central Complex, which contains Black Mesa's Central Command and Communication Centers and a Mechanized Infantry Repair Bay.

Sector G - Hydro Electric

Located at the lowest points of the Black Mesa Research Facility, Sector G generates power from Black Mesa's rivers and underground Drainage Canal system. Its most prominent feature is the Topside Hydro Plant that consists of a large Hydro-Electric Dam that cuts through the center of Sector E.


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