Terri Carroll retires in June of 2015, and has been an integral part of XCOR for nearly a decade. We caught up with her recently to recap her tenure at XCOR, and learn what experiences have meant the most in that time.
When I first came here in 2007, the question from Aleta Jackson was, “Can you come in and help us out for a couple weeks?” Aleta wanted me to answer the door since all of our offices were quite a distance from the lobby. Just answering the door wasn’t keeping me busy so I started looking for projects. I began archiving the backlog of photos and newspaper and magazine clippings. Every time someone needed something done, I raised my hand and in the process turned a temporary job into the most exciting and rewarding job I’ve ever had.
When I started, there were about twenty people here, and everybody who worked here was passionate about going to space. Nearly from the beginning I started working with teachers, including the Teachers in Space program, and we turned that into a real educational outreach program.
I’d known all of XCOR’s founders from their Rotary Rocket days. I was the editor of the Mojave Desert News, reporting and doing photography, and the airport was part of my beat. So that’s how we met. I actually wrote the first news story about XCOR in 1999.
What I appreciate most about XCOR is that this company has given me so many opportunities to do things that I never imagined when I first started. They have given me free rein to grow the education program, and that’s the most meaningful thing I have done here. To go out and talk to kids, to encourage them to be excited about space travel and exploration the way my generation was when Alan Shepard did the first suborbital flight, that’s what excites me.
Now, with the space program there is still important and exciting science going on… but it’s not plastered all over the news. It is almost invisible. Without XCOR and other space companies going out and showing kids what’s actually possible again, they may not see the story. As small as this company is, we have become the example of how you take space outside this building and show these kids what they can do. I think that’s important. For us, educational outreach isn’t just a program, it’s a responsibility.
The most exciting day at work was 10/1/2010, when I flew in the X-Racer. That was the most exciting [by far]. And the most exciting part of that day was liftoff. Being scared of rollercoasters I argued with myself for weeks ahead of the flight—can I do this? The thrill of the instant acceleration when Rick lit those engines. Instant acceleration down the runway, then going vertical. Dan always retells the story of how when I landed I wanted to keep going, wanted to fly again.
I loved space since I was 10 years old, so to spend the last 8 years of my working career at XCOR has been beyond a dream come true.