Homer, the main character, is enthralled with rockets after the launch of Sputnik. His buddies catch the fever and they want more for their lives.
Coalwood is a struggling coal mining town and the boys are expected to be coal miners like their fathers before them. The love of science, a supportive teacher, Homer's supportive mother, and help from other friends help them go on to productive lives in the scientific community.
The boys in the movie October Sky are all expected to follow in the footsteps of their father who works as a coal miner.
The main character in the movie, Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal), lives in the appropriately named town Coalwood, West Virginia, and the social norm is for men to grow up seeking a job in the mining industry. However, Homer's brother has recently gone to college and this leaves only Homer to follow in his father's footsteps. But, after the launching of the Russian satellite Sputnik, Homer is hit with rocket fever.
With the support of his mother and his science teacher, Homer and a group of friends who are expected to have a similar career path, defy expectations and undertake a quest to build a rocket that will help them win a national science fair.
Of course, Homer wins the fair and with his scholarship and moves on to become a NASA rocket scientist. This movie is about the importance of defying social expectations in order to follow one's dreams and listening to one's talents.