Transcript: Space4U podcast, Ed Rosenthal

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

Hello, and welcome to the Space4U podcast. My name is Colleen Parith than I am with the Space Foundation. The Space4U podcast is designed to tell the stories of the amazing people who make today’s space exploration possible. Today we are joined by Ed Rosenthal and Rosenthal is the founder and chairman of the board of Florikan ESA. Ed grew up on a farm in Canada.


And the last thing that he said he wanted to do when he was younger was work in agriculture, but in 1971, he found himself working for a polymer company in Canada, where he learned the ins and outs of its manufacturing, injection and molding process. Ed and his wife, Betty founded Florikan ESA in 1982 and they set out to help growers and farmers make farming more.


As of today, their sons, Eric and Jonathan are second generation owners of the company. As a further introduction, we cannot separate Ed Rosenthal and Florikan’s achievements, Florikan is a 35-year-old controlled release fertilizer manufacturing company with a legacy of business success and awards for ethics.


Florikan has received 13 major rewards for ethical business practice, product innovation, job creation, and environmental leadership. One of the few companies in the country where such a vast array of recognition over 35 years in 2017, Florikan was inducted into the Space Foundation’s Space Technology Hall of Fame.


Well, thank you so much for joining us. Today, Ed, it’s really a pleasure to have you on the show. Oh, thank you for having me. It’s my honor to support space foundation and all your wonderful programs. Thank you. Now, as we just talked about and hurting your biome. You’ve worked in the fertilizer business for nearly 40 years.


Now, can you tell us a little bit more about your background and how you got involved in this field? Yes. And thank you for asking that question as you, um, So you mentioned, uh, I was brought up in an agricultural farming family in an area, um, called Les shoot is a small town in Quebec, Canada. Um, my mother was American and my dad was Canadian and we ended up living on this farm.


So my dad who had immigrated from, from Europe, he was the farmer. And, um, I guess he was successful in Romania, but he was not. Very successful, unfortunately, in, uh, in Canada. So life was really difficult, many, many challenges on a farm. My hope growing up was that one day I could help farmers, like my dad find a better way to grow.


And that’s really what I had hoped for when I graduated from university. Again, as you said in the bio and, and thank you for that. My very first job, uh, was at a polymer manufacturing plant. So I did learn kind of, or chemistry. And how to apply polymer chemistry on to, uh, nutrients or fertilizer. So farmers could fertilize once per crop, rather than multiple applications.


So that polymer chemistry that I learned on the job together with what I knew about nutrients and fertilizer from the farming traded, um, really a breakthrough innovation. And the breakthrough innovation was a controlled release of nutrients, which made the grower more efficient. And we’re so we’re so fortunate.


This resulted in us receiving four patents to Florikan, and it’s really helped to change agriculture to a more efficient use of nutrients. So it was a difficult road, but at the end of the day, we’re all worth it. Story, you know, to be wanting to help people, um, you know, like your father could have probably used that help, um, when you were younger.


So that such a wonderful inspiration to get started in something like this now. So people right now might be wondering, well, let this fertilizer happen. To do with space. Um, so our listeners may not know that your product has actually been on the international space station and used to grow vegetables up there.


When did you first imagine that your product would work in space? Oh my gosh. What a question. And I’ve written the answer down. We never could realistically plan for that. It’s beyond imagination, but we knew we had produced a world-class product and we knew that it was growing crops all over the world, efficiently from NASA, wanting to grow vegetables and space.


And they did some very detailed research and funded some research at various universities. And did some, um, in-house study for many, many years. And until they determined that the four can technology, our technology was the best and is what they selected to grow vegetables in space on the ISS. And our product’s been in space since 2014 and we’ve had a lot of crops successfully and.


It’s, it’s just a wonderful achievement for us. And also for NASA, NASA, that who vetted the technology reached out to us and we worked together to grow the vegetables in space. It’s quite an achievement that is really such an amazing feat. Um, did you ever have a fascination with space prior to launching your product to the international space station were always.


Supportive of, um, you know, everything our country does, but no, not really. I really didn’t think about it. No. And, but, you know, that’s, I think one of the things that’s so fascinating about it because we all use space in so many different ways and, you know, some people are just so drawn to it and other people it’s maybe not as much of a fascination, but it, it really connects all of us together.


And, you know, I think your product really demonstrates that. So you mentioned that. A little bit, how you got started with NASA, but can you give us a little more background on how you got involved with NASA and sending your product to the space station? Yes, it truly is a two-stage story, but, um, it it’s good for the readers to understand this collaboration.


On how NASA helps private business and how private business can give back to NASA, which quite honestly more companies should. But in 2004, we, we invented a technology called staged nutrient release, or we call it SNR and it’s a time to release fertilizer. For feeding plants without using liquid feed, we received a patent on it.


I wrote a research paper on it and, um, the new technology for feeding plants, one of the most innovative new product award of the United States of America from the national society of professional engineers in America and SP. It was, I’m just thinking about it. It was such a, an unbelievable honor. And so this award-winning SNR where they’re getting into a lot of tech details.


It matched a nutrient release in the soil with the crops uptake pattern. What did the plant need? So SNR improved nutrient efficiency reduced the potential for nutrient runoff. And we’re so successful as an innovation that received this in SPE most innovative new product award USA. So the LSP new product award had a special perk.


Perk was 40 hours of research support at any federal agency. This was in Oh four and Oh five. And I knew that NASA was doing experimentation. On the shuttle at that time, I had on astronauts suits by spraying polymers to deflect heat and cold. Anyway, I selected NASA as the federal agency or administration that I wanted research support from.


So I was involved with St. Thomas. Which even till today was the most unbelievable outreach that NASA could have given a private company. We’re so grateful and say, pop is space Alliance, technology outreach program at Kennedy space center. If any of your listeners don’t know what St. Top is, they should Google it.


So the same prop Kennedy space center. Research. It helped us to improve the polymer, coating on-stage nutrient release to make it even more efficient control of nutrients. And that gives us the ability to say that Florikan controlled release fertilizer mask, the spin-off technology. So spinoff means, as you said, wood works in space.


We were able to get access to that technology. And help to improve, uh, fertilization on earth. That’s what NASA is all about. And as we’ve been saying, you know, this, the fertilizer that is time-released, um, that you all designed was used on the space station, and you’ve done, you know, this work with, you know, say top.


Can you tell us about the moment you learned your fertilizer would be used to help grow the first vegetable? Not only grown, but eaten in space. In 2013, we received a contact us email request on our website from Dr. NASA at the Kennedy space center. And we were invited to consult with the veggie team, uh, Kennedy space center task with the growing of fresh vegetables in space for supplementing at the astronaut diet as well as enhancing life support.


Court system. So when, when we received that request, we immediately responded in a positive way, and I’ve been working closely with, uh, uh, space plant biology. As you came at Kennedy space center ever since 2013. That’s when we found out that NASA was considering our product to be used in space, but we then found out that NASA had funded a very rigorous research study.


Which had already published a peer reviewed paper, which found the conclusion that the Florikan nuclear code 18, six, eight fertilizers were quote the most effective. And this was in the body of the research findings. Was the most effective at delivering the steady state of release of Newtons 20 degrees all the way to 30 degrees C.


So you’re talking 77 degrees Fahrenheit to over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. So for NASA to have the ability to feed fertilizers with a consistent release at all of these temperatures was a significant plus. So we’re very proud to say that. We’re part of the space plant biology program and, uh, assisting NASA in maturing veggie technology.


Using the florican controlled release fertilizer on gala office can provide future space pioneers with what’s really needed a sustainable food supplements, which are, I’ll have to say as a critical part of NASA, future space flights. Um, the Mars mission, for example, it’s a seven-month journey at least.


And seven months, without any ability to resupply the colonists, the astronauts they’re going to have to grow their own food. So this veggie technology that we’re now working on is going to keep the sustainable food supplement, heart, um, mission assurance for them to get to Mars. So it’s really an important if we’re.


If we’re going to Mars, we have to feed our astronauts. Absolutely. I mean, that is critical. Like you mentioned it, you know, at least seven months to get there and you know, you can’t just send another rocket behind it with food and supplies and that sort of thing. So it’s going to be, you know, completely critical.


Now we mentioned at the beginning here that in 2017, a Floikan, was actually inducted into our space technology hall of fame, along with NASA Kennedy space center. How did that feel? It’s one of the proudest moments of my life. Certainly we’re, we’re so proud to be collaborating with NASA to develop this.


Fresh food, sustainable system for astronauts in space, but to be inducted with Kennedy space center and say top space technology hall of fame. It’s, it’s one of those it’s really hard to describe the feeling of pride and gratitude in the same moment, but that’s, that’s what we felt. I was standing there next to director cabana and.


And, uh, Karen Thompson, the chief technology officer at the Kennedy space center, it was quite an honor. And, you know, we work closely with Dr. Nelson, Dr. Wheeler and transmit them the whole veggie thing, Dr. Wheeler who’s, uh, uh, Kennedy space center. He said something very significant to us, which I’ve always remembered.


And I’d like to. To read it. He said, Florikan has been a great partner in our pursuit of developing reliable plant and food production systems for the ISS. As we press on with human exploration of space. When Dr. Wheeler and the team came to visit our forecast plant, we had a meeting and he, he also said to me that our expertise and help to advance their research significantly.


So those type of compliments. Make us feel so proud, even more powder to be involved with such wonderful researchers as these people at NASA, I guess can’t say enough good things about them. They’re so intelligent and they’re so gifted. And yet every time I talk to them, they make me feel that I’m kind of almost equal to that.


My not way smarter than me. But they’re down to earth, wonderful researchers and scientists who are so open to new ideas and new technology that it makes working with them quite a privilege. Absolutely. And, you know, from, you know, just our conversation alone, I would say you certainly do along and as equals with them.


You know, this is. It’s not something that you get in just any fertilizer. You know, this is something that you’ve really put your heart and soul into. And I think that definitely shows through with your product. Um, you’ve got a couple of different products and different technologies, galaxy one and neutral coach or two of those.


And those two technologies have actually been certified as space technologies by us here at the school. Based foundation has part of our space certification programs. Can you explain these technologies in layman’s terms for our listeners? Sure. Thank you. So we have work and what we do is we engineer.


Specialized polymer coatings that can encapsulate nutrients and the key is being encapsulation. So we’re not applying free nutrients that can dissolve in, uh, in, in the rain or, you know, basically heat and cold can play hazard too. So the encapsulation basically, um, controls the nutrients and makes them, um, deliver very, very slowly through the coating this in turn optimizes.


The plant nutrition and the plants get the nutrition they need as they need it, which means that the plants were pulling it up. You get an, a reduction of environmental impact, which is important. You know, you want the fertilizer to be in the plant and not to leach away. So, so the encapsulation of the nutrients is the critical technology.


Ours is a cross-linked polymer. So it’s basically got two type of molecules that linked together. Which basically control both the polymer on the fertilizer and how to fertilize your releases. That’s as simple as I, as I can make it as it’s the encapsulation on the nutrients is the technology. Okay. And that’s something and you kind of hit on this just a little that, you know, some people may not be familiar with, especially if they’ve, you know, never fertilize, even their lawn.


That the, the time-release is really, what’s important to, because for one, you don’t want to lose the product because then it’s not doing its job for the plant, but it can have environmental impacts as well. Correct? Yes. It’s really important to apply the exact amount or as close to the exact amount the plant’s going to need and to put it where you want it around the plant.


Of course, in space, we put it exactly, you know, in our grill boxes. Right. You know, in the media, but the idea is not to broadcast fertilizer, not to just throw it out Willy nilly, but to use a technology like ours, which is the encapsulation where the fertilizer releases very controlled. Over a period of time, we have a a hundred day, we have 180-day release and it’s a very straight-line release.


So what happens is the plants get the fertilizer as being needed and they’re able to metabolize it. Be very healthy and there’s a reduction of environmental impact. If you’re really important, because if too much fertilizer is applied, it can go into waterways and, you know, the result can be water, quality issues like algae blooms.


So on. So we tried, we tried to provide a product which was going to help the farmer be so efficient that we get a reduction in environmental impact. That’s just incredible. I mean, such a technology, um, you know, I would definitely say that, you know, the awards you’ve won, I think you’ve made it very clear that very deserving of that.


There’s so much thought behind it that it’s not just a product to make money, but to make things better, I would say, I’m sorry. I just wanted to comment. I think, um, you know, we’re probably talking about it later, but that environmental impact issue, we, we took it really seriously when fora Ken was named as a company in 1982, by Betty and myself, we called it Florikan ESA and the ESA stands for environmentally sustainable.


Agriculture back in 1982. So all of our work, all of these past 40 something years has been to create environmentally sustainable agriculture. So you’re going to love this because the fertilizer was developed under those pharmacists to, um, both help the grower, uh, become more efficient and also reduce environmental impact.


The USCPA United States environmental protection agency. Both in 2005. And then in 2008, awarded us the environmental leadership award called the golf guardian award. And Gulf guardian is from a program administered by the USCPA. Whereas the only fertilizer ever to receive their golf guardian award, once we received it twice, there was no other fertilizer company, um, that has ever been so honored and typically fertilizers.


And the EPA are at odds, you know, it’s like, w what can you do to force the industry to use nutrients better? Well, in our case, we just were using the encapsulation technology and EPA determined. We deserve the golf guardian award. So that’s on top of being inducted into the space technology hall of fame.


We have. Twice been recognized by the United States environmental protection agency. So that’s pretty big. That is absolutely huge. And definitely kudos to you and your team and your family for, for doing that. It’s just so wonderful to see, you know, companies like that, that care. Thank you. Thank you.


Absolutely. Now, one thing that I’m really. Curious about is, you know, it was a really big deal when the astronauts first ate that lettuce on the international space station got worldwide attention. Did you get any feedback from the astronauts regarding your product? Such a great question. We were hoping.


Um, but we got, we got it like kind of, um, I guess second hand it, because if the vegetables were not grown, right, they wouldn’t have tasted good. So they wouldn’t have been successful. And what we heard from the astronauts. Cause that’d be really enjoyed the taste of the fresh grown vegetables on ISS and in particular, there’s a very nice video on the first lettuce crop on ISS, which by the way, was outrageous red romaine lettuce.


That was a first crop growing on ISS and, um, Uh, the historic date was August 10th, 2015. Scott Kelly had, uh, participated in growing the lettuce and harvesting the lettuce. And on that particular day he tasted it and his comment was his famous comment on the video. He said, this is good. And then he said, tastes like arugula.


That’s so amazing. Because lettuce that tastes like a real deal means it’s very nutrient dense and it’s grown properly. So that was the kind of feedback we got that the astronauts really enjoyed growing the vegetables in space and they loved the harvest thing and the eating or fresh vegetables. So, um, It just made us feel really, really great at the astronauts and enjoyed it equally mind doing all the work to, to grow and harvest it.


Cause they’re busy people and then enjoy the taste. It doesn’t get better than that. You know, they didn’t have to say your fertilizer was great. What he said was what he said was this is good. Tastes like a Regal. So we say that’s a big success. I would certainly take that as a compliment for sure. Now, we’ve kind of talked about some of the commercial use of your products.


Um, are any of your products available to the general public and if so, where might they be able to purchase? Yes. Thank you. The, um, the wholesale product are available through our distributors and we have distributors across the country for the 50-pound bag. But if you’re, if you’re which, you know, they can just contact Florikan, and Florikan, we’ll tell them who the big distributors for agriculture are in their area.


But as far as retail is concerned, other retail brand for our partner is called dynamite. Plant food. You know, they take our actual fertilizer and then repackage it into two pound and one-pound containers. The dynamite plant food is available at the home Depot and Lowe’s. And, um, before I can control release, fertilizer can also be found on Amazon.


So Home Depot Lowe’s and Amazon, and for large quantities of 50 pound bags and up. Um, we can get them to our agricultural distributors. I just need them to send us an email or call us up. Okay. So, um, the Floikan CRF is an NASA spinoff technology, which you mentioned earlier, what are the applications for the Floikan CRF used on the international space station to improve agriculture?


Yeah, that’s another very good question. So. Because we found that in space that the product could, could work in very small all areas and without a lot of bladder, um, it’d be so efficient. We found that not only in conventional agriculture methods or also growing in pots, but there’s a, there’s a new industry taking home in agriculture called vertical farming.


And that’s where you stack. The vegetables, whether it’d be lettuce, cabbage tomatoes, you stuck it up four or five high and are controlled release fertilizer mixed into the media works tremendously well in this vertical farming. As a result, instead of growing just one lettuce on the ground. If you’re a vertical farming, you can produce four or five lettuces out of that same.


Growth space. How did that seem? A square foot area? So that’s a lot more food for a growing population on earth. So the vertical farming on earth basically was commented on by NASA and an article they published in fertilizer focus. And okay. I’ll just, I’ll just read that to you. It says as NASA furthers his investigation, Into the complicated science and space agriculture, they meaningful Florikan, can use the same technologies to create positive solutions on earth.


And that’s what vertical farming is. Is is that similar farming, uh, on ISS where you put the fertilizer into the media. You have a grow box here on earth, you can stack up the baskets. Think of them as small grow boxes and you go from there. So we’re very excited. Okay. So what would be some of the differences of growing veggies in space compared to growing them on earth?


I mean, obviously there’s a few obvious ones such as, you know, the gravity issue, but are there other challenges? What else is different? Well, if this is the team at Kennedy space center who overcame these challenges and they were significant and all the scientists that deserve all the credit. For this, but gravity of course, was the big difference.


That was a challenge and light there there’s virtually no light that you can depend on to grow food. And as a NASA scientist had to come up with what light system would, could be used on ISS. That their girls had vegetables that took a lot of research by, by one of the scientists to basically develop the light system that would work.


And, you know, it ended up being a combination of blue and red wavelengths, which create this pinkish light, which is what provides the good plant growth. So basically the ability to grow vegetables, indoor was created by NASA. The discovery of the combination of the randoms and light, which by the way, you could use those same LEDs inside a tractor trailer here on earth or in somebody’s classroom, and basically have the same results.


So again, that light development that on ISS that grows vegetables has tremendous applications on earth to grow food, literally indoors water, the water behavior on surfaces. There’s a great video. Commander Chris Hadfield of what water does in space, which I invite everyone to go on and just click on that.


But the water basically adheres to surfaces, it will float. And the NASA Kennedy space center team had to figure out how to. To get water, to stay at the roof systems. We don’t send swirling to space. So remember, there’s no light microgravity, basically the water’s behaving differently than on earth and no soil.


You know, we can’t have bacteria in space, so we need an inert substance. So we had to come up with a replacement for soil and then like it. No allergy the nutrients solubility to solubility, if each fertilizer nutrients challenges in space. So we had a saw that with, uh, with the encapsulation and the controlled release.


All of these changes make the roots go crazy. And the root configuration. Yeah, the roots of the plant, they go up. They go sideways. They go everywhere. We want them to grow down. So there were all of these challenges and to think about it, that this group of scientists at Kennedy space center overcame them all to grow vegetables in space, kudos to that team is quite something we’re proud to be part of it, but honestly, The light from one of the researchers, Dr.


Matt, Nick, and I believe the water behavior doctor, a master Dr. Wheeler, that the formation of the media by the whole team, quite the wonderful group of researchers being successful now. And then it kind of brings me to my next question of thinking. So there’s, there’s all these other factors, but then we also have to look at it, the type of client or in this case.


Vegetable that was grown. Did you have any input into what was growing on the international space station or how was, how was lettuce chose to be the winner? Yeah. Well, first I’ll just comment on, um, on the root system because whatever plant was going to be selected, the roots needed to be retrained to grow down.


And if you have a gravity signal, the roots generally grow down. But on the ISS because of the micro gravity, the roots were growing in a variety of directions. So Dr. Massa and the team came up with these veggie plant pillows or the plant pillows. It’s great to read about them on, but the roots are enclosed in these plaque pillows, which contain the media came before I can fertilizer.


And basically what happens is the roots are signaled. To grow down within this pillow. So the roots are kind of retrained to grow like they do on earth. That’s like huge innovation that made all this possible. So the plant pillows were the first thing that had to be created in order for any vegetable to grow in space.


We’ve got to get the roots to go in the medium, find the fertilizer and then, um, you know, get going. As far as the selection of a plant species, you know, that was done by the plant physiologists at Kennedy space center. Really, we were just given the fertilizer to develop and, and which we did to help them.


But, um, they had a general, uh, criteria for which veggie species selection was going to be grown in space. And I’ll just read them to you. The, the species had to have reliable. Quick germination. Very important. You can’t have somebody going to Mars and then, Oh gee, we only got 50% Germany. Not, not going to happen.


It’s got to be reliable, quick termination, highly editable biomass. That means in a small space, like on ISS, you want to have a plant. That’s going to have a higher. Biomass outside of the roots, it’s going to create more food to eat. That’s called high edible biomass, low native microbial levels. That means that plants are not going to get ill.


They’re not going to need chemicals. They’re not going to get, they’re not going to become sick plants in space. So it has to have low native microbial levels and high density. High oxidants and the high antioxidants, I found really interesting because if somebody’s eating this food and that’s all they’re eating, going on a long, uh, long-term, uh, space strip, um, they don’t want to get sick from their food and rather they want the food to give them more health.


And so that’s where the species selection was all about to, to have the astronauts have healthy food food that wouldn’t get them sick and right. Wouldn’t, you know, basically the plants wouldn’t get sick and they wouldn’t make the astronauts sick and then grow a lot of food in a small space and make sure that the germination was reliable and quick.


So those were the criteria that the plant species were selected. We ended up with the outrageous red romaine lettuce was the first one. That fit all these criteria is that’s been grown on ISS several, several times successfully, uh, Tokyo, but Canada was the cabbage that was selected. And then there’s a mizuna mustard, green, um, and other pods species, but all of them have to fit.


These four criteria has to be grown in space and those criteria make perfect sense, especially as you kind of explain them of, you know, it needs to be able to survive. Some plants thrive. And some, you really have to give a lot of loving care to, to make them grow. So, you know, that all really makes a lot of sense of why they would choose, you know, the lettuce or the cabbage and those sorts of things.


Yeah. Which Lennar stuff that was the key. In other words, one lettuce was selected, not five. So one lettuce. One red is the, I registered a red romaine lettuce was selected and then the Tokyo mechanic cabbage and et cetera, et cetera. So it wasn’t like we had here on earth, a huge number of plant species that could qualify.


There may be others, but these were the ones that basically, uh, the NASA space pot biology came, were able to say these have these criteria and let’s, let’s use them and grow them in space first. So it was quite the honor for those. Particular seed companies as well to be selected. Absolutely. And you, you received awards for having us have happened in space.


Um, and I would consider it as, you know, an unofficial award really to have been selected and to have accomplished all these things. But we’ve mentioned a couple of times now that Florikan, has received numerous awards over the years. And we’ve talked about if you have them, is there any one or two in particular that stand out.


Particularly special to you? Well, we mentioned the golf guardian award from the program administered by the USCPA for environmental leadership in Oh five and Oh eight. That’s certainly one that will always make me proud of the ESA mission of our company, environmentally sustainable agriculture. Then of course, the national most innovative new product.


The award for the whole country, from the national society of professional engineers in Oh four was a great honor, but there is one more. We received 13 awards for ethical business practices and doing the right thing for our customer. But I’d say 1992, there was a hurricane. Called hurricane Andrew that devastated a lot of our customers in South Florida, South of Miami, an area called homestead.


We had hundreds and hundreds of growers who are using our fertilizer product in homestead and hurricane Andrew was a category five storm. It just, it just destroyed. That market area. We, as a company launched the recovery effort and brought them supplies, shade, cloth, food, water. We literally put the industry back in business again with our recovery.


And we were named by the American Red Cross as the corporate hero of Hurricane Andrew. For what we did to help all those people and customers. And for us, that’s probably it, you know, if you could say you were there for your customer, your, your, your grower on the day that they really needed you and you were able to hold their hand and pull them back onto their feet so that they could get their business back.


I say, that with the American Red Cross and working together and seeing that industry come back from that devastation, that probably isn’t that’s my proudest award. Absolutely. I would probably agree with you. I think that would be extremely humbling and you know, it’s about doing the right thing. So, you know, congratulations to you on that and really all of the awards that you’ve won and, you know, you and your organization.


Yeah, we’ve been talking so much, um, between all the different space agencies, really around the world, the private ones, the government space agencies about going to Mars, you know, Mars. And we’ve kind of talked about that, you know, it’s seven months just to get there and they’re going to need food. But what about when they’re there is for can doing any sort of research for what nutrients would be needed for a Martian fertilizer?


We don’t think we have to do a specialized Martian fertilizer, because it’s really interesting when we, when we talked about the media selection, you know, um, that we couldn’t send soil to the ISS to grow plants. We had to select immediate. That was in hurt. Silica claim was selected as the media we use on the ISS to grow vegetables.


And it was complicated because silica clay is not commonly used to grow vegetables on earth and it required a different fertilizer, different water, sort of like a clay has a very high CEC, which is paradine exchange capacity. Which means the ability in layman’s terms, the ability of the, of the nutrients that are in the media to get into the platform.


So the clay very high, C U C, C. It also holds moisture. Anyway, make a long story short. We were able to grow the vegetables and silver for clan ISS. Now last year, we have a Rover on Mars called and curiosity went to an area of Mars that it hadn’t been to before it drilled down into the Martian environment, pulled up, you know, some of the does the soil or the media.


Mars digested it and sent us back or sent back the results to NASA and guess what happens to be on Mars?


So. Either somebody at NASA is really got a good hunch for what Mars is made of, or maybe it wasn’t orbital that it’s right on the money. Make a long story short. What is being used on ifs can be the basis of you’ll have to be. Fine tune for sure. But the fact that Phil clay is there, we just have to continue to ensure that the Florikan CRF feeds the plants efficiently.


But if silica clay is the media on Mars, it’s on ISS. We can continue those experiments. And I think that gives them a good chance to be able to grow food on Mars. Obviously they’ll have to be under a dome because of the oxygen and. To deflect some of the radiation, but the fact that the media is there, so we’re not going to have to send a lot possible, same rocket ships, a federal or something from earth that’s not possible.


So the fact that the fact that silica clay is there, the fact that silica clay is being used on ifs. Those are very significant. So it’s a big positive, of course we know that there’s water on Mars, you know, so you have that, you know, Water. Yes. Silica clay. You have certain organic molecules in front of it found in the Martian surface.


So all in all it sounds, and I’m sure it’s not going to be a very simple turnkey, but it’s going to be possible for us to have calling us survive on Mars. That is really exciting. Just to think that we might have everything we need just to, to go, like you said, it’s not a turnkey necessarily. There’s still work to be done, but that’s really exciting.


And I’m sure for, you know, the kids that are going to be those astronauts who put their first foot on Mars to think, well, at least I can have a vegetable garden when I, when I get up thereafter a little bit of work. So that’s really exciting. Yeah. I’m thinking. More like, they’re going to have to set up those vertical farming and use the silica clay.


I’m just thinking outside the box. You know, it takes some of the water that’s found on Mars, run it through an RL system so they can get rid of any of the impurities or the salt or whatever. So they’d have potable and good water to drip onto their plants. If you’re doing vertical farming, you could have, you know, the seeds that would come obviously would come from earth.


The silica clay, hopefully it’s on the marshal planet. You mix in some other fora can controlled release and they might have the ability to grow their own food. We won’t know till we get there, but all indications are we’re on the right track and that’s all I’ll do. To Kennedy space center, all due to these brilliant researchers that I have the privilege of working with.


That’s a very awesome, and I have to say this conversation has really been awesome as well. And, you know, to think there’s so many things, like I said, really at the beginning that, you know, space and earth. There’s a lot of interchangeable pieces in it. And sometimes it just takes some adapting, but we really can’t have one without the other.


And the work that Floikan is doing and that you’re doing are really helping take us to that next step. So we do appreciate your time so much. You’ve been a wonderful guest and I know that our lists. Sinners have probably enjoyed this just as much as I have today. Thank you so much. We also are very grateful to space foundation, what a wonderful organization.


And, and we thank you for inducting us into this space technology hall of fame. As I said, it’s my greatest honor. It’s a privilege for us to support Space Foundation. About to give lectures on your programs. We’ll just go from here. But, um, what you did for us in 2017 to acknowledge our work will never be forgotten.


Thank you very much. Well, like I said, it is certainly well-deserved and again, you know, we really appreciate having you on the show today. Thank you so much for the opportunity. I hope the readers and listeners, like what they’re going to hear. If there’s. Any questions, they can send it in to our website at


And we’ll be sure to answer them. Wonderful. Again, thank you so much, Ed. And that concludes this episode of the Space Foundation’s Space4U podcast. Keep your eyes and ears open for more Space4U episodes by checking out our social media outlets. On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. And of course on our website on all of these outlets and more it’s our goal to inspire, educate, connect, and advocate for the space community because of the Space Foundation, we will always have space for you.


Thank you for listening.

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Space4U Podcast: Ed Rosenthal, Florikan Founder