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Normally, I expect the verb "launch" to go with "into space." But I saw the following:

Three rookie astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission for NASA just launched to space for the first time. They’ve tipped the number of people to have gone to space to over 600, according to a tally maintained by NASA. Source

The NS-19 mission brings Blue Origin to 14 people launched to space in 2021, a year that has seen a flurry of private human spaceflight activity. Source

The entire lab and all its equipment launched to space a little more than 40 years ago on May 14, 1973, aboard the last Saturn V rocket ever to travel in space. Source

Why is "to" used? Does the choice reflect some conception of outer space?

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  • I don't know why they used that, but it's extremely uncommon - maybe the author is not a native English speaker. I would consider it odd/strange/non-native.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 10:12
  • Those are native sources, though.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 10:13
  • Do you know the author's nationality, or first language? NASA employs people from all over the world. Also, even native speakers are not necessarily good writers.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 10:14
  • The NASA article's author is Tracy McMahan, who I assume to be a native.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 10:15
  • Perhaps you should ask the author. She has a LinkedIn page.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 10:20

1 Answer 1

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  • "Into" implies the subject arrived in space (and stayed there for a significant amount of time), whereas "to" simply emphasizes direction.

    In your second quote, for example, the flight only took 11 minutes and, while having reached 100 km — a theoretical border between the Earth's atmosphere and 'space' — it was never intended for the rocket to go into space:

    The rocket launched from Blue Origin’s private facility in West Texas, and reached above 100 kilometers (or more than 340,000 feet altitude) before returning to Earth safely a few minutes later.

  • Another interpretation, and one that seems more likely to me, is that all the subjects of your example sentences (i.e. "three rookie astronauts", "14 people", and "the entire lab and all its equipment" respectively) were inside objects that were launched into space, so as to distinguish the meaning from these entities being launched into space as-is (like how in science fiction the dead are often ejected into space).

    In short: people (and objects) are launched to space inside spacecrafts, but spacecrafts are launched into space.

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