The Catholic University of America

Masataka Okutsu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Civil Engineering


202-319-4314 phone
202-319-6677 fax



Purdue University (Ph.D., 2006; M.S., 2001; B.S., 1999)


Biography in Brief:

Dr. Masataka (“Masa”) Okutsu conducts research in astrodynamics and space mission design. An example topic is gravity assist, in which a vehicle could change its flight velocity by performing a flyby of a moving planet or a satellite. Dr. Okutsu has designed multiple-gravity-assist trajectories for NASA’s mission studies, including an end-of-mission scenario for the Cassini spacecraft (at Saturn) and Jovian tours for the Europa Orbiter (at Jupiter). Other research areas include advanced mission concepts, such as human missions to Mars. Dr. Okutsu’s work has been covered by the national and the international media including MSNBC and BBC. 

At CUA, he is a member of Civil Engineering faculty and an instructor for Mechanical Engineering and general engineering courses, e.g., ME554 Aerospace Design, ME552 Introduction to Flight Dynamics, ENGR222 Differential Equations. He also directs students on research projects.


Representative Publications:

Okutsu, M., Landau, D. F., Rogers, B. A., Longuski, J. M., “Low-Thrust Roundtrip Trajectories to Mars with One-Synodic-Period Repeat Time,” Acta Astronautica, Vol. 110, 2015, pp. 191-205. doi: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2015.01.006

Okutsu, M., Yam, C. H., Longuski, J. M., and Strange, N. J., “Cassini Saturn-Escape Trajectories to Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune,” Acta Astronautica, Vol. 79, 2012, pp. 157-167. doi: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2012.04.034

Chen, K. J., Rogers, B. A., Okutsu, M., Landau, D. F., and Longuski, J. M., “Low-Thrust Aldrin Cycler with Reduced Encounter Velocities,” Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 49, No. 5, 2012, pp. 955-961. doi: 10.2514/1.A32109

Okutsu, M., DeLaurentis, D. A., Brophy, S. P., and Lambert, J. B., “Teaching Aerospace Engineering Design Course via Virtual World: Comparative Assessment of Learning Outcomes,” Computers and Education, Vol. 60, 2013, pp. 288-298. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2012.07.012

Okutsu, M. and Longuski, J. M., “Mars Free Returns via Gravity Assist from Venus,” Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 9, No.1, 2002, pp. 31-36. doi: 10.2514/2.3778