Press "Enter" to skip to content

Dr. Melissa Corley Carter – Barefoot, Dancing, Rocket Scientist

Dr. Melissa Corley Carter says:

Your epic life actually IS rocket science!

I was the epitome of vroom vroom veer, beginning with 20 years on the fast track chasing my dream to become an astronaut. Despite two Stanford engineering degrees, an Air Force officer commission, a PhD in astronautical engineering, and perfect vision after corrective eye surgery, my pre-surgical eyesight disqualified me and shattered my dream.

I continued on the fast track of an Air Force career that looked like traditional success, but internally, I was adrift. I could have followed in the footsteps of the high-powered and inspiring women I worked for, but I realized I wanted to inspire people in a different way – and with a lot more life balance.

When I came to a major decision point, I leaped into the unknown and left my active-duty military career. At the time I didn't know what my life purpose was, but I knew it was bigger than what I was doing.

In the years since, I've realized that my astronaut dream emerged from an intuitive knowing of my spiritual connection with the universe, from a desire to inspire people to greatness the way astronauts had always inspired me, and from the vision of a unified and harmonious world.

Now I use basic principles of rocket science to help rockstar humans reclaim their power, own their awesomeness, and take giant leaps of faith. I’m living my true dream every day!

Also a 7 continents marathoner, I’m the author and photographer of the award-winning coffee table book, “Running the World: Marathon Memoirs from the Seven Continents,” and the companion wisdom card deck, “Running YOUR World.”

Dr. Melissa Corley Carter Vroom Vroom Veer Stories

Wanted to be an astronaut since the 5th grade; parents were suppportive of that goal

Melissa has an identical twin sister who also was in Air Force ROTC and their paths diverged after college

On the Air Force officer fast track; got to attend a prestigious graduate program as her 2nd assignment; maybe graduating from Stanford had something to do with that

Next prestigious Air Force assignment was an aide to a general; she also witnessed the historic nose-to-nose meeting of Enterprise and Discovery (Star Trek fans?)

There was fine print in the astronaut qualification criteria that stated if your eye sight was “this bad” then don't bother with the corrective surgery; Melissa's pre-Lasik eye sight was “that bad”

After realizing her dream of being astronaut was over; she looked at the amazing career track of her bosses in the Air Force and discovered that path wasn't appealing to her

She found a new calling teaching leadership as an Air Force reservist; she also did a Marathon on every continent and wrote a coffee table book with stunning images and words of inspirational reflection

Show Summary

In this episode of “Vroom Vroom Veer,” host Jeff Smith welcomes Dr. Melissa Corley Carter, a former astronaut candidate turned life coach. The conversation starts with Jeff introducing Melissa, who shares her background and leads into her website, “Epic Life Actually.”

Melissa dives into her personal and professional journey, explaining how she transitioned from being deeply involved in aerospace engineering to discovering her true passion in life coaching. She discusses the concept of everything being like rocket science in that it's about moving from where you are to where you want to be, acknowledging progress, and making adjustments.

Jeff shares a personal anecdote about observing different thinking styles during an informal experiment at LA Air Force Base, which leads Melissa to reflect on her own experience growing up in Dallas with an identical twin and her dreams of becoming an astronaut since fifth grade.

Melissa opens up about her educational path through Stanford University, where she studied mechanical engineering and astronautical engineering. She talks about her intense academic and extracurricular commitments, including ROTC and the equestrian team, highlighting the pressures and learning experiences during her time there.

Delving further into her career, Melissa discusses her time at the Naval Postgraduate School, her roles in space acquisitions, and her significant yet disappointing moment when she was disqualified from becoming an astronaut due to her pre-surgical eyesight. This setback, she explains, catalyzed a period of introspection and reevaluation of her career and life goals.

The conversation turns deeper when Melissa talks about her shift away from the Air Force and into life coaching, driven by her passion for empowering others and her desire for a more balanced life. She describes her experiences teaching leadership skills as a reservist and the fulfillment she finds in helping others reclaim their power and recognize their own awesomeness.

As the episode wraps up, Melissa reflects on her identity shifts, the realization that her astronaut dream was more about inspiring others and feeling a connection to the universe than about space travel itself. This epiphany has reshaped her approach to her work and life, leading her to focus on what she truly values.

The interview concludes with Jeff and Melissa discussing the importance of aligning one’s life with personal passions and strengths, rather than following a prescribed path that may not offer genuine fulfillment. Melissa emphasizes the transformative power of embracing one’s unique journey and contributing to the world in a way that feels personally meaningful.