Adam Savage thinks NASA should get working on a backup plan for Earth

When we met Adam Savage on a Friday evening, the Mythbusters co-host was jazzed after spending much of the day at Johnson Space Center, where he got to hang out with engineers and technicians in the robotics and advanced space suit labs. Savage was visiting Houston to promote his new exhibit—The Explosive Exhibition—at Space Center Houston. But during his interview with Ars, he was just as happy to talk space. “This is totally a thing for me,” he explained, doffing his fedora.

Savage spent 14 years building and destroying stuff on the hit TV show Mythbusters. He was driven from an early age to work with his hands and explore the boundaries of human experience by testing, failing, and trying again. In this he feels some kinship with NASA, which he characterized as “a ritualized failure analysis organization.” Both Mythbusters and the space agency, he said, try to game out all of the ways in which something can fail to ensure overall safety.

“It feels very simpatico to me because when I look at NASA hardware I can tell that people built it,” Savage said. “That’s different from when I sit in a modern car. Most modern stuff is made by robots and machines. But there is a tactile element of NASA hardware that is super evocative. I wasn’t obsessed with NASA until I met NASA scientists making Mythbusters, and I realized they were treating me like a peer.” The TV show has visited NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California numerous times to use the facility’s wind tunnels and its iconic Hangar One facility. They were welcomed with open arms.

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