A mission to Mars may launch from Kennedy Space Center, but the technology to enjoy fresh foods during the six-month voyage is being developed in Macomb County.
Microcide, Inc., which is based at the Macomb-OU INcubator in Sterling Heights, has been pioneering the development of non-toxic antimicrobial products for nearly two decades. These include a vegetable wash, no-rinse food sanitizer and alcohol-free mouthwash.
“(Microside has) developed new technology using food-grade ingredients to kill bacteria” said John Lopes, president of Microside, of the chemical-free cleaning agents. “Because it is based on food-based ingredients, it is the greenest product in the market.”
While Microside’s products have been moving into the retail market – and is being utilized in the food processing, health care, personal care and agriculture industries – they have also caught the eye of NASA which was looking for a simple way to sanitize foods during the long flight between Earth and the red planet.
NASA is currently developing tabletop greenhouses to grow fresh vegetables for the astronauts during the flight. Lopes said one of his products is a powdered product that dissolves in water. This was rejected because it would float throughout the spacecraft in zero gravity.
Instead Microside and NASA worked to develop sanitizing wipes.
“(NASA) wants to make absolute sure that every prduct they use in the spacecraft is absolutely safe and fool-proof,” said Lopes, of the chemical-free products which have a dual use. “Our products will never develop bacterial resistance, so they are absolutely safe for long duration flights.”
While Lopes is excited for the Mars mission, he is proud of the local connection to the products.
“Our products are all developed, patented and manufactured in Michigan,” Lopes said.