Chicago food company Nature’s Fynd, in collaboration with NASA, has launched a protein bioreactor aboard SpaceX-25 en route to the International Space Station. Seeking to develop new sources of sustainable protein for space exploration, the flight study will demonstrate the use of novel technology to grow high-protein food on the ISS.
During the study, the bioreactor will grow Fy, Nature’s Fynd’s nutritional fungi protein, by utilizing the company’s patented fermentation technology. According to the brand, its technology uses a fraction of the land, water and energy required in traditional agriculture. The bioreactor has also been proven to efficiently convert simple feedstocks, such as vegetation and excess plant material, into high-protein biomats of fungi.
The ISS study will now test the bioreactor’s efficacy under low Earth orbit microgravity and radiation conditions.
According to Nature’s Fynd, the flight is a significant next step in the company’s ongoing partnership with NASA’s EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), Montana State University and BioServe Space Technologies, a research center at the University of Colorado Boulder.
A complete protein
Containing all twenty amino acids, Fy is a “new to the world” protein that offers a healthy source of fiber and other essential nutrients. Fy was first discovered in microbes living inside Yellowstone Park’s geothermal springs. To date, Nature’s Fynd has raised a spectacular $500M in funding from investors including Al Gore, Bill Gates, ADM Ventures, and Danone Manifesto Ventures.
In March 2022, the brand launched plant-based sausages made with Fy protein into select US Whole Food Markets.
Coming full circle
“Today, we’re thrilled to announce our role in the revolutionary NASA research to develop a safe, efficient, and robust system for producing fresh food in space,” said Thomas Jonas CEO and co-founder of Nature’s Fynd. “Our connection to NASA is deep—Nature’s Fynd started as a research project for NASA, which led us to discover a remarkable microbe with origins in Yellowstone National Park. We’re delighted to come full circle now and demonstrate our technology’s efficacy for future space travel.”