In Coalwood, West Virginia in 1957, all the boys grow up to be coal miners, and Homer Hickam has no reason to think he'll be any different. Too small to earn a football scholarship, Homer has no way out of his predetermined life - until the Soviet satellite Sputnik flies over the October sky and changes everything. Homer's world just got a lot bigger.
Though his father is a mine superintendent and has no greater wish than to see his sons follow in his footsteps, Homer dreams of bigger things for himself-above the ground. With the help of three of his friends, he sets out to build and launch his own rocket. Despite frequent misfires that nearly get them shut down, their successes inspire the whole town to believe that even in Coalwood, there's nothing wrong with shooting for the stars.