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October Sky (1999)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama, Family  |  19 February 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 60,238 users   Metascore: 71/100
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The true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry against his father's wishes.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Natalie Canerday ...
Scott Thomas ...
Jim Hickam (as Scott Miles)
Randy Stripling ...
Dorothy Platt (as Courtney Fendley)


In a 1950's mining town called Coalwood, Homer Hickam is a kid with only one future in sight, to work in the local coal mine like his father. However in October 1957, everything changes when the first artificial satellite, Sputnik goes into orbit. With that event, Homer becomes inspired to learn how to build rockets. With his friends and the local nerd, Homer sets to do just that by trial and a lot of error. Unfortunately, most of the town and especially Homer's father thinks that they are wasting their time. Only one teacher in the high school understands their efforts and lets them know that they could become contenders in the national science fair with college scholarships being the prize. Now the gang must learn to perfect their craft and overcome the many problems facing them as they shoot for the stars. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

rocket | coal | sputnik | mining | mine | See All (140) »


Sometimes one dream is enough to light up the whole sky. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language, brief teen sensuality and alcohol use, and for some thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 February 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Rocket Boys  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,905,250 (USA) (19 February 1999)


$32,481,825 (USA) (23 July 1999)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Homer H. Hickam Jr. helped design and build the cannon that is used during the Virginia Tech Hokie football games. See more »


When Roy Lee's stepfather is beating Roy Lee up, after getting released from the jail, and John Hickam tells Homer to get into the car, Jake Gyllenhaal (Homer Hickam) is not the one getting into the car, it is his body double. See more »


Roy Lee: [after a rocket launch] Holy shit, it's headed for the mine.
[beat, then runs]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The real life people portrayed in the movie are shown during the end credits. See more »


Referenced in Battlestar Galactica: Flight of the Phoenix (2005) See more »


Written by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller
Performed by The Coasters
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Nostalgic, Inspirational and Worthwhile
4 June 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I was watching this when my wife called to inquire from the other room as to my choice of fare. My comment? "I am watching my Life!"

Though younger, but only by 5 years or so, than the "Rocket Boys" I remember the absolute urgency with which Sputnick was greeted by our administrators of education and how the whole Science Fair thing gained momentum and took me and others into the competitive whirlwind. My own tornado landed me in my own State's Science Fair, in Physics by '62, though our group was less successful in gaining the support of, for example, firefighters we approached for guidance and counsel until after a tragic event, our city went so far as to allow us to tour the Nike missile site on Chicago's lakeshore.

This movie brought it all back for me and I will bet that it brought it all back for a bunch of us "UberNerds" of the late '50s and early 60's.

We are in a similar science brain drainage period now and really need this movie as a country. See It!

36 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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