“GOD speed, John Glenn.”

Those poignant words still send a tingle up the spine, although they were uttered away back in 1962 by a flight controller as astronaut Glenn zoomed up to become the first American to orbit the Earth.

They were heard again in news reports earlier this month when, sadly, he passed away at the age of 95 - one of many well known people who left us this year.

Everyone who goes into space puts their life on the line, but it was particularly risky in the early days when it was not uncommon for rockets to explode.

Glenn was acutely aware of the dangers involved in being strapped into a fragile metal capsule, the size of an aircraft toilet, on top of a rocket designed to deliver warheads.

He and fellow astronauts made history, and even went on to be immortalised in the classic TV series Thunderbirds, when master puppeteer Gerry Anderson borrowed their Christian names for his characters.

Glenn, the last surviving of NASA’s original seven rocketmen, became a Democratic Senator, but, alas, failed in a bid to be his party’s presidential candidate.

This year we also lost the multi-talented 69-year-old David Bowie. He never went into orbit, but his Space Oddity song will be forever remembered, and a version of it was actually sung on the International Space Station by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Glenn and Bowie have helped to inspire adventurers to continue trekking towards the stars.