Some phytoplankton can be regarded as possible candidates in the establishment of Controlled Ecological Life Support System (CELSS) for some intrinsic characteristics, the first characteristic is that they should grow rapidly, secondly, they should be able to endure some stress factors and develop some corresponding adaptive strategies; also it is very important that they could provide food rich in nutritious protein and vitamins for the crew; the last but not the least is they can also fulfill the other main functions of CELSS, including supplying oxygen, removing carbon dioxide and recycling the metabolic waste. According to these characteristics, Nostoc sphaeroides, a potential healthy food in China, was selected as the potential producer in CELSS. It was found that the oxygen average evolution rate of this algae is about 150 mu mol O(2) mg(-1) h(-1), and the size of them are ranged from 2 to 20 mm. Also it can be cultured with high population density, which indicated that the potential productivity of Nostoc sphaeroides is higher than other algae in limited volume. We measured the nutrient contents of the cyanobacterium and concluded it was a good food for the crew. Based on above advantages, Nostoc sphaeroides was assumed to a suitable phytoplankton for the establishment of Controlled Ecological Life Support System. We plan to develop suitable bioreactor with the cyanobacterium for supplying oxygen and food in future space missions. Crown copyright (C) 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. on behalf of COSPAR. All rights reserved.