John Hickam (Chris Cooper) is a West Virginia coal miner who loves his job and expects his sons, Jim (Scott Miles) and Homer (Jake Gyllenhaal), to follow in his footsteps. But Jim gets a football scholarship, and Homer becomes interested in rocket science after seeing Sputnik 1 crossing the sky. John disapproves of his sons’ new mania, but Homer begins building rockets with the help of friends and a sympathetic teacher (Laura Dern). Rocketry, he hopes, will prove his ticket to a better life.
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