What could possibly be the connection between a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park, US and the International Space Station? The answer is also the story of how a NASA researcher, Mark Kozubal, ended up as a start-up entrepreneur.

Before we proceed further, some wisdom: there is no end to what you can find if you keep your eyes open. Ask Kozubal!

NASA had asked some of its scientists to look for life in hot springs and steam vents and Kozubal was to nose around in Yellowstone National Park. In a hot spring there, he found a mat of algae. The waters were so hot and acidic that algae would normally not thrive. He was intrigued. He took a sample. The sample contained a microbe. A decade later, Kozubal and one Thomas Jonas named the microbe Fusarium strain flavlolapis, trademarked ‘Fy’. The microbe is ‘extremophilic’, capable of thriving under harsh conditions, a trait that enables it to breakdown a variety of materials and convert them into food. You can culture it in, for example, space.

In 2018, Kozubal and Jonas started a food company, Nature’s Fynd.

The microbe, Fy, can be cultured by feeding it water, salts and sugar, in ordinary metal catering trays and it becomes a high protein food—a tray of the stuff has proteins equal to 35 chickens, says the Smithsonian magazine. Nature’s Fynd is selling a variety of Fy-based foods in supermarkets but is touting it as ‘space food’.