Relates the true story of young Homer Hickam Jr. (Gyllenhaal), who rose from a gloomy West Virginia mining town to become a NASA engineer. Spurred by the launch of Sputnik and a supportive teacher (Dern), Homer and three of his friends experiment with rockets with the hope of winning college scholarships. The boys battle the skepticism of their peers and families as well as the looming possibility of a future in the mines. Entertaining and uplifting without resorting to melodrama and sentimentality. Adapted from Hickam's memoir "Rocket Boys."