348 user 110 critic

October Sky (1999)

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.



(book), (screenplay)
3,705 ( 528)

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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Jim Hickam (as Scott Miles)
Randy Stripling ...
Ike Bykovsky
Dorothy Platt (as Courtney Fendley)
David Dwyer ...
Mr. Dantzler
Valentine Carmina


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 <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Based on an extraordinary true story. 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 USA:

$5,905,250, 21 February 1999, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$32,481,825, 25 July 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The real Homer Hickam Jr often attends the annual Rocket Boys/October Sky festival now held near the town of Coalwood. See more »


At the end of the movie when they show the space shuttle launch, the first shot shows a launch stack with a white painted external tank. The second shot shows a later, unpainted rust colored tank. See more »


Homer: Why're the jocks the only ones who get to go to college?
Roy Lee: They're also the only ones who get the girls.
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Crazy Credits

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


Featured in Spotlight on Location: October Sky (1999) See more »


Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Written by Jerome Kern, Otto A. Harbach
Performed by The Platters
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Rocket Boy's Life Soars
22 August 1999 | by See all my reviews

I resisted seeing this movie and I understand why it was not a big hit in theatres. "October Sky" feels and looks oh so familiar. And it is. All plot contrivances and emotions have been explored before in other films -- and possibly even better. But despite it's familiarity and resistance to all formulas Hollywood, this movie is winning and likeable at every turn.

Sputnik is the inspiration for this journey of the heart, mind and soul. Just as the characters from Steven Sondheim's musical MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG stood agape atop their apartment roof hoping it would launch their new generation ("What do you call it? You call it a miracle."), Sputnik has a similar affect on the young rocket boys of this true tale. While jaded townsfolk of their 1950's coal town dismiss the event, Homer Hickham sees Sputnik as his ticket out of a life in the mines.

Masterful direction and casting make the journey of rocket boy Homer and his pals seem fresh and new. Especially affecting are subplots concerning Homer's ailing young school teacher. Remarkable restraint is shown in depicting their delicate relationship. Also remarkable is the father / son supblot that anchors the film. Perfectly played all around. Even Homer's mom gets her moment without cliche or intrusion. Her ultimatum to her husband is both dignified and heatbreaking. "Myrtle Beach" says it all.

A major video chain I despise has a sign next to this film stating that you'll love this film or they'll refund your money. For once, I agree with them. You'll never look at the October sky quite the same again.

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