Trend Watch

'Godspeed, John Glenn'

The same words sent him into orbit in 1962

Lookups for Godspeed spiked on December 8, following the death of astronaut and senator John Glenn.

When John Glenn lifted off in the space capsule Friendship 7 in February 1962, making the first U.S. manned orbital flight, a voice from mission control spoke the same words that were used in NASA's announcement of his death: “Godspeed, John Glenn.”

Godspeed, meaning "a prosperous journey," comes from the Middle English phrase God spede you ("God prosper you"). It was originally used to wish success to someone, like saying, “May you prosper.”

These days it's more often used to express hopes for a safe trip. It's a formal and old-fashioned word that makes it particularly appropriate for official voyages with a sense of risk.

And even though the speed in Godspeed doesn't mean "the rate at which something moves," we also suspect that it feels right for a space vehicle that can travel around 17,000 miles per hour.

Trend Watch tracks popular lookups to see what people are talking about. You can always see all Trend Watch articles here.

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