2668: Artemis Quote

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Artemis Quote
Another option: "It is an honor to be the first human to set foot on the moon."
Title text: Another option: "It is an honor to be the first human to set foot on the moon."


The Artemis program is a series of planned space missions that will land people on the Moon and begin to set up infrastructure for a permanent crewed presence. People first landed on the Moon in 1969 as part of the Apollo program. They have not been back since 1972. When Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the Moon, he famously said, "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind." However, he was intending to say, "That's one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind [emphasis added]." The audio recording omits the word "a", making the sentence confusing, as "man" and "mankind" have the same meaning when referring to all people.

That the word was apparently elided by Armstrong in the excitement, changing the meaning of the historical phrase, is controversial and thus humorous. Subsequently, Armstrong and others have blamed insufficiently tuned voice activity detection hardware circuitry intended to save power in radio voice transmission, but NASA engineers, third-party historians and their hired experts have never been able to corroborate that explanation.[1][2] Armstrong later said he hoped, "history would grant me leeway for dropping the syllable and understand that it was certainly intended, even if it was not said," and, on p.126 of the June 1982 edition of Omni, "the 'a' is implied, so I'm happy if they just put it in parentheses."

Randall suggests that the first Artemis astronaut to set foot on the Moon has a duty to utter an even more confusing quote, saying the sentence, "This is one of my favorite historical quotes — the first words spoken by an Artemis astronaut on the moon," aloud as they step onto the Moon. That would be confusingly self-referential, as if they were alluding to something from the past. The phrasing would also be confusing to a person hearing it quoted, as it would sound more like a statement about the quote than the actual quote itself. This is very unlikely, and funny merely as a recommendation. If it actually happened, it might be both hilarious and scandalous.

While the comic's lunar lander has similarities to the current plans for the Artemis lander,[3] it is a generic drawing, perhaps in homage to classic space science fiction, with the exit portal at an unlikely position near the base of the SpaceX Starship lander.[4]

The title text suggests an alternate phrase by which the Artemis astronaut could say being the first (rather than 13th) human on the Moon is a great honor. People hearing this quote in the future could assume that Artemis was the first crewed mission to the Moon. It could feed into contemporary conspiracy theories that the Apollo landings were faked, furthering the confusion.

This comic coincides with the canceled launch of Artemis 1, an uncrewed test mission which will serve as the start of the Artemis program. The mission was intended to launch on 29 August 2022, and later on 3 September 2022, but was repeatedly postponed due to a series of technical problems. It finally launched on November 16th. On December 13th, the spacecraft successfully splashed down back on Earth.

In 893: 65 Years, Randall made a graph showing the number of living people who had been on the moon, and estimated the day when zero would be alive. At that time 9 of the 12 were still alive. Upon this comic's release, only four are still among the living.


[A vertical rocket is standing on four deployed legs on the surface of the Moon. The surface is depicted with characteristic craters and rocks with a slightly curved horizon. The rocket is standing in the left part of the panel. A short ladder leads down from a hatch in the lower part of the rocket body. An astronaut has stepped down from a ladder onto the Moon's surface, and is speaking:]
Astronaut: This is one of my favorite historical quotes — the first words spoken by an Artemis astronaut on the Moon.
[Caption beneath the panel:]
Neil Armstrong's "man"/"a man" quote created a lot of historical confusion, and I think it's our duty to expand on that legacy with Artemis.


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The first quote is self-referential (and confuses people, when quoted). The second plays unto the myth that the moon landing was staged. It is nice to be able to choose words, which are cited. A great opportunity to confuse people. -- 21:09, 5 September 2022 (UTC)

I think the second might play unto the quote from neil armstrong, where instead of dropping the 'a', it drops a digit (ex. "13" -> "1"), rather than some conspiracy theory 16:11, 12 October 2022 (UTC)

To those of you wondering why, "mankind" ,[emphasis," currently appears in the wikitext, I would direct you to explain xkcd talk:Editor FAQ#Punctuation inside quotes and parentheses. I am discouraged by such pettiness. 21:26, 5 September 2022 (UTC)

Waitwhat? ...Quote-Space-Comma-OpenBracket..? Good job it isn't like that now, or I'd be rewriting it. (Probably put the [emphasis added] within the quotes, for starters, before worrying about the other punctuation.) 23:02, 5 September 2022 (UTC)

Perhaps the first Artemis astronaut to set foot on the moon will prefer to come with her own idea of what to say. 21:55, 5 September 2022 (UTC)

I'm hoping for interpretive dance. 22:31, 5 September 2022 (UTC)
I hope they do a couple cartwheels before saying anything. 03:09, 6 September 2022 (UTC)
Endorsed: "two small cartwheels for women of color; two giant tumblings for people!" 05:07, 6 September 2022 (UTC)
[URL:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSZoqYElqVE] "It's Good to Be Black on the Moon! Goddamn It!"Seebert (talk) 21:49, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

The quote in the title text is factually true, adding to the confusion it would cause, as it does not actually claim that the Artemis astronaut is the first human to set foot on the Moon, only that it is a great honor to be the first. Bugstomper (talk) 22:34, 5 September 2022 (UTC)

On a related note: It could also be interpreted as inviting the listener to fill in the unspoken continuation of "It is an honor to be the first human to set foot on the moon. To be the 13th is..." -- "meh"? "arguably bad luck"? "asking to be the butt of a 'baker's dozen' joke"? Mrienstra (talk) 20:53, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

It is not feeding trolls to acknowledge that these trolls people exist (and are exactly the kind of people Randall likes to bait. But I won't 'unedit' that. (Someone else can either restore it or get rid of the silly compromise of being commented out with a confusingly 'inline' text-comment. Only by checking the precise version dif would it even make much sense.) 22:57, 5 September 2022 (UTC)

I interpreted the second (alt text) option as being intended to cause a similar mis-hearing (or suspected mis-hearing) debate as was the case with the original man/a man quote. The word "human" could possibly be mis-heard as "woman" over a poor-quality audio transmission, leading to a debate about which was intended. (According to the comic, the intended word would in fact be "human", but if the person was female most listeners would likely assume that it is supposed to be "woman" as most people are aware that humans have been on the moon before but probably unsure of whether or not a woman has ever been on the moon.)

Questions: Has a woman ever been to the moon, and is NASA planning to choose a woman for the new mission? It wouldn't surprise me if they were planning to send a woman this time around for PC points. 23:13, 5 September 2022 (UTC)

Yes, I believe Artemis has announced that they intend to let a woman of color be the 13th on the Moon, but I'm not up to date on the official press releases. 23:20, 5 September 2022 (UTC)
I'm Hoping it will be an African-American woman chosen specifically as commander for identity purposes, who says "It's Good to be Black on the Moon!" [Obref Netflix _Space Force_][URL:https://youtu.be/F4I0kfrkTMc]Seebert (talk) 23:23, 5 September 2022 (UTC)
[Written before two other replies, above, appeared... One maybe answering an issue I raise below about the 'twofer'...] One of the main 'selling points' has been that the first landing mission would definitely include a female crewmember, and a 'person of colour'. I've never been quite clear that this is to be the two identities of the two crew or if the intention is that there'll be one person fulfilling them both as a "twofer". So those worrying about (or applauding!) "PC points" are already happy to have their fears(/hopes) confirmed.
As a side note, I find the "PoC" term a horrible phrase, in my mind, but I'm British and I know that whatever problems we have with what terminology to use (BAME, etc) are quite different from the US. And there are near-universally undeniably worse terms to use. And "of colour" (or "color", in Leftpondian) doesn't seem to mean much except not being pure-Saxon. Apparently Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (neé Markle) is mixed-race (some even say "black") but I wouldn't have known (and, now knowing, am not at all bothered by the fact) given that tanning salons output a steady stream of darker-skinned anglo-saxon or even celtic-heritage locals.
Anyway, there'll be complaints by the anti-PC brigade regardless, not that I mind them being upset. So long as they have good individuals (no Iron Sky 'just send a model', purely as a vanity passenger) they should be able to pick and choose which of various suitable candidates works well in the grand scheme of things.
(And I don't agree with the "human/woman confusion thing", seems far too clumsy. Even as deliberately awkward phrasing.) 23:46, 5 September 2022 (UTC)

I don't understand because e.g., conflating "a" man with "mankind" is potentially self-contradictory. There's no conflation in "a man is an individual, but mankind is a group", and the issue is surely more that so seen in "man is an individual, but mankind is a group" where "man"=="mankind" in this respect so that the logic ends up as (A==B)&(A!=B) by trivial analysis... Whatever, I just don't think that explains what is 'wrong'. 23:46, 5 September 2022 (UTC)

Addressed in subsequent edits to the Explanation. 03:04, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

If the astronaut removed his boot before saying "It is an honor to be the first human to set foot on the moon." He/she would technically be correct. SDSpivey (talk) 23:28, 5 September 2022 (UTC)

It's a terrible idea to place an unclothed foot on lunar regolith, not only because of the vacuum and temperature, but it's like a layer of somewhat coarsely ground glass reasonably likely to cause puncture or laceration even from the diminished weight of any adult. 23:44, 5 September 2022 (UTC)
I forget where, but I've seen a 'hard'/speculative SF treatment of future Moon tourism options that includes a run out of one handy airlock and almost immediately into another whilst suited and singly-booted (an extremely tight ligature on the other lower leg, for the necessary duration) for those wishing to make their 'ultimate footprint' in the regolith. With a bit of practice beforehand, there is probably a (comparatively) safe hop-step gait that doesn't cause much more damage than the briefly decompressive coldness betwixt the portals connecting to the safer internal environment of the moonbase this all happens at. Still a 'thrill' activity, with inherent risks both in the execution and afterwards. 23:58, 5 September 2022 (UTC)
I have no doubt that someone will leave their actual footprints on the Moon someday, but I hope they use crutches and some way to get their foot back into their pressure suit ASAP. 02:34, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

Someone really likes to remove "redundant" words, in edits, amongst other minor adjustments (described similarly laconically) that I'm not sure are truly justified. I bet if I put some of them back (just the ones that I felt served a purpose, and I can imagine the original authors thought so too) they'd just be removed again. And no easy way to argue the toss, so I'll spare you the arguments and put up with the potential travesties. But I get the feeling that there's a particularly opinionated editor out there, active at this very moment, who is more pleased with themself than they rightfully have reason to be. There are valid rhetorical uses for emphasis, you know, and your 'perfection' might not be so universally agreeable despite your sniping. 00:24, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

Is there a Unicode glyph for saying wiki editors need to calm down? 00:32, 6 September 2022 (UTC)
There must be one for "copyedit". Which seems to just mean that an edit is being made, without any proper comment. 00:47, 6 September 2022 (UTC)
⛚✎ 01:03, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

I just deleted this, because it doesn't make sense to me:

This joke could be taken in one of two ways: one, that it is a violation of the cooperative principle which states that what people say usually is of relevance to the current situation - in this scenario implying that the Artemis astronaut is the first person on the Moon when in fact they were simply discussing the topic in a disconnected bubble the same way one might make such a comment on Earth; alternatively it could simply be to mislead people into thinking Artemis was the first crewed mission to the Moon.

Perhaps the author can go into more detail here on how this is a better explanation than the text it replaced, please? 04:20, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

Just a comment that personally the link to the cooperative principle looks quite helpful and relevant to both this and other comics, as well as recent politics. 20:30, 6 September 2022 (UTC)
I'm not the author of that, but I'm the one who put the lander-appearance paragraph under a Trivia field, and was about to do the same with the Artemis 1 paragraph when I find someone edited the Trivia away (mentioning it by name) and wants to talk about it... So, I don't know what you think you're doing (in the nicest way, I just think you're confused about what your 'partial reverts' are actually doing). But the editing is clearly busy, so I'll probably come back to it later today anyway and see what we have. ...no, scratch that. Seeing the 'missing' paragraph improperly appended to another paragraph, both that and the Artemis 1 one are both now in Trivia as purely incidental to the comic but maybe interesting regardless. Until someone decides to do something stupid(er) with them, maybe. 04:31, 6 September 2022 (UTC)
So if I understand you, the comment about how the drawing has people coming out of the base of the SpaceX Starship, while the contract NASA awarded them has an elevator, presumably with some sort of a backup like a winch or rope ladder, is trivial? You might also consider commenting on the content instead of the contributors. 04:35, 6 September 2022 (UTC)
It's not trivial, but it's Trivia. Anyway, see above. Unless you already saw what I did and maybe rereverted it (but now I am staying away for several hours, so fill your boots...). 04:43, 6 September 2022 (UTC)
Ok, Trivia-proponent back here again, finally. Yes, it did get immediately/before-I-had-finished reverted (and compounded back to that other unrelated para) as predicted. And then someone came up with a other term that seems to have stuck.
Noting that the Artemis 1 para really is the main thing (of the asides), which I'd originally put at the top of the more ephemeral subsection, and that Trivia (or its otherwise-named direct alternative) is generally positioned below Transcript. But at least it's not a glaringly obvious directly unexplanatory intrusion in the explanatory flow, FFS. 15:01, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

I wonder what other editors think about this deletion, given the extent to which schwas and dialect have played in Xkcd recently. 05:13, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

One small step for man'); DROP TABLE Quotes;-- 06:58, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

Yet another xkcd where I learn something: I never realized there was any confusion on the "man / (a) man" part in Armstrong's quote. It did not even occur to me there was a missing article to begin with. American speakers do omit their articles from time to time in casual speech (e.g. "sorry I'm late, damn car broke"), not to mention that this is actually a feature in many non-English languages. Ralfoide (talk) 18:59, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

You would otherwise have said "Sorry I'm late, a damn car broke"? No, I think you missed the "the" in "...the damn car...". Maybe you meant "...(it was a) jam on the interstate" (perhaps because a car, someone else's, broke; or just general congestion). On the whole, you can miss "the" a lot easier than "a". And "the words are funny"/the word is funny" has a different overall meaning (refering to specific words) to "words are funny" (covering the whole lexical gamut, it seems). "A word is funny" is potentially useful and coherent (a response to "What's the best thing to draw on someone's forehead when they're passed out drunk?"?), "word is funny" is Buffy-speak at best ("the word"? "a word"? Context required! (The context/A context/you choose.))
There are cases to miss an indefinite article, or maybe in a patois, but they're rarer than with the definite one. And unarticulated "man" (distinguishing it as an uncountable version of the noun) is effectively the same as "mankind" which then makes the rest of the statement (which also lacks a qualifying conjunction; commonly decided to be "but", yet may be "and" or "or" or or others, further changing what the intent is) more useful for arguments such as this than as a guiding linguistic light.
But then some people say "I could of", so there are worse misarticulations out there... 19:47, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

What is the large round flat thing on the surface of the moon? 20:30, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

You mean the crater? Are you confused about the raised rim? I think that's all you're looking at. 22:07, 6 September 2022 (UTC)

Surely the ultimate honour is not to be the first human/woman/person of colour/dog-f#cking lunatic/whatever to 'set foot' on the Moon, but to be the first person to be BURIED there, thus making you a permanent fixture of the moon forever (since you aren't likely to decompose). MarquisOfCarrabass (talk) 05:24, 7 September 2022 (UTC)

If buried (deliberately, rather than merely irretrievably/unreachably) it'd be against any "no man left behind" mentality. I think an Artemis mission would try to bring back any victim of a fatality on principle (and frown upon a 'living will' desire by an astronaut, perhaps indicating they're psychologically not utterly committed to completing their mission).
Perhaps it counts if cached under a pile of rocks until the next viable recovery mission recovers them (and any 'survivor' who did this but then had no way to return themselves).
Maybe a descent accident (or intent-to-ascend incident) might make the space equivalent of a shipwreck/war-grave self-memorialising site, but it wouldn't be a matter of burial (unless it involved extreme lithobraking!) and any recovery mission sent from/on behalf of Earth would again be unlikely to bury the deceased or indiscriminately shovel dirt over the wreckage.
(I'm using US sensibilities to this issue. I'm sure that it might change once more nationalities get involved. I'm not saying that in other circumstances it'd be an automatic "If I should die, think only this of me: That there's some corner of a lunar crater That is for ever Zlobenia." But it'd depend on many contemporary and perhaps political elements.)
Once (sufficiently) permanent Moon-habitat is set up, perhaps then any fatalities there amongst the long-term residents become viable candidates for permanent burial (rather than memorialising). Especially if there's local recovery possible (or a medical death) but no option to ship 'home' (the colony is left isolated due to various imaginable problems 'back home', before or after they're even capable of sufficient self-supplying).
Still uneasy (currently) about those who would travel to the Moon with any intent to be buried there. They might precipitate the need and/or arrive knowing of a terminal condition that will overtake them, and both issues introduce problems to those who go without any such personal intent.
It'll be a while before (all else being equal) an undeniable candidate for permanent and deliberate interment would become obvious. An honour saved for a particularly distinguished presence, perhaps. Possibly even reserved for the first lunar colonist to die (uncontroversially) of old age, or something. Now that's the end (and after-the-end) that I'd be on board to be part of, either as primary participant or if it was ever my role to authorise.
...but the socio-political atmosphere (or lack thereof) might change a lot before this question arises, and gets solved in this manner. A temporary "disaster cairn" erected in haste might just end up being thereafter left undisturbed, as much of a permanent memorial as any deliberate mausoleum would be initially intended to be, carefully roped off/honour-guarded to discourage future interference. Or rather than sending some (or all) of a person's ashes to the Moon, perhaps those deemed worthy enough (or rich enough in life to arrange in advance) could be bodily sent to the body, post-mortem, for their ultimate journey.
I could even imagine a Martian grave preceding a Lunar one, due to the shifted logistics involved (yet with increased worries of souring the search for Martian life if you give a whole human gut-biome/etc the merest possibility of putting its own footprint on the planet). But only time can tell how either possibility may unfold. 10:10, 7 September 2022 (UTC)

"(→‎Explanation: trim unevidenced speculation and recommendations for Randall w/no explanatory value)" ...that's a lot of editorialising, from one editor. There was maybe editing needed, but I think that is one helluva judgement call to make. (No skin in the game, myself, except for having corrected some typos/formatting as previously seen in the now removed sections.) 17:08, 7 September 2022 (UTC)

It's hard for me to understand why you are willing to complain on talk about deletions without restoring the part(s) of the deletions you're complaining about. Am I correct in gathering from your style that this is probably at least the fifth time you've done so? If so, please consider commenting on the content instead of the contributors. Also, the idea that anyone has any "skin in the game" for unattributed collaboration would be funny if it wasn't preposterous. "If you do not want your writing to be edited mercilessly, then do not submit it here." 17:44, 7 September 2022 (UTC)
Hi. I have restored some things (no more than once, except maybe in key bits made a rewrite/reposition to satisfy some unknown individual's peculiar editorial tastes). And promptly seen them vanish again (and reappear again, and vanish again) still without obvious reason. For this reason, I came to Talk rather than compounding the problem in the article. Most likely seeing things re-vanish anyway, helping nobody and perpetuating the problem.
I have commented on contributions. I have said I don't know why <whatever> was removed, and that I thought it relevent. Just to see a profunctory reversal that in turn does not satisfactorarily address these things. And now I comment here. Editing is part of the process, I accept. I change things all the time myself. But if it's not spam or vandalism I don't just say it is irrelevent and remove it, I seek to improve it (whether or not the origibal author(s) agree). If it seems to need grossly cutting down then perhaps bring the 'offending' material down into the Discussion area.
Given the sudden spate of excisements, BTW, I'm guessing someone is new and very keen. Not a bad thing, and indeed welcome. But I've seen a lot of editting out/in/out/in/out recently (maybe some keen new editor-back-in as well, then?) that is much more prevalent than usual. Perhaps consider a deep breath or two before leaping in (for the second, third... maybe even the fifth time?)... Friendly suggestion. From someone who would have been just as happy to stay on the sidelines making minor tweaks to punctuation; except that it now looked like it needed a passing comment. (Rather than an edit-war).
If I wanted to be more authoritative, I'd at least register a username, but others (also IPs, mostly) may also be taking umbrage and/or sides, from many of the changes I've seen recently, before and after my own poking in of the nose. Just an observation. Can't speak for (or against) everyone else here
...Having attempted to address everything, I may now revert to my usual quiet self again. Shalom. 20:21, 7 September 2022 (UTC)