While most of President Eisenhower's|advisors--
lf you have just tuned in|to this special bulletin...
Washington has confirmed|that yesterday...
on the fourth|of October, 1957...
on the fourth|of October, 1957...
the Soviet Union|successfully launched...
history's first|man-made satellite...
into space orbit|around the Earth.
The satellite which the Russians|have dubbed Sputnik...
is being hailed|as a milestone in history.
No one in our nation's capital|could deny that the satellite...
has ushered in a grim|new chapter in the Cold War.
And indeed,|a wave of national anxiety...
already seems|to be sweeping the country.
Still maintaining its speed|of 18,000 miles an hour...
completing an orbit of the Earth|every 96 minutes.
Dr. Wernher von Braun...
Chief Engineer of the Army|Ballistic Missile Agency...
expressed the hope|that the United States...
would soon be following|the Russians into space...
with our own|artificial satellite.
Dr. von Braun confirmed|that there has still been...
no actual sighting|of the Soviet satellite...
but the U.S. expects|to be tracking it very soon.
We are told that Sputnik will be|visible to the naked eye...
about an hour after sunset|and an hour before dawn...
as it traverses the October sky|over the United States.
What the beeping signal means|we still don't know.
lt may be nothing more--
Let's go, Roy Lee.
lt's almost 9:00.
Sure are in a hurry|to get yourself killed.
No kiddin'. There are easier|ways to commit suicide, Homer.
Will you just step on it,|Roy Lee?
l am steppin' on it.
Okay, Maguire, Longstreet, Hickam.|Let's see what you got.
Hey, take it easy on my kid brother.|Make him look good, all right?
Let's go! Hut!
Now. Set. Hut two!
l told you to take it easy on him.
l did take it easy on him.
l'm gonna run right over you,|you son of a bitch.
- You hear me?|- Hut one! Hut two!
Homer, you sure got guts...
but you gotta know when to quit.
Okay, Miller, you're up!
Why should the damn jocks be|the only ones gettin' scholarships?
They're also the only ones|that get the girls.
This burns my ass.
What do you boys think about this?
lsn't that something?
Let 'em have outer space.|We got rock 'n' roll.
l'm with you. We got enough|to worry about down here.
Homer, your dad say anything|about any layoffs?
- Have they pulled any more pillars?|- He didn't say.
Does he talk at all?
Yeah, he talks.
Damn it, Jake! Didn't l tell you to put|some men to work on those roof bolts?
- Was l talkin' to the wall?|- l'm sorry. We was just tryin' to get--
Make sure the hoot owl shift|sets those timbers by the vent!
Two more days on that block, we're gonna|be down to the bone. l guess that's--
Jensen! Get out of there!
Jensen, look out!
Come on, Jensen.
Come on back.
Whole damn mountain|'bout fell on your head.
And John here,|he saved your life.
That's my dad.
l want you out of this mine. Don't|come back, you stupid son of a bitch.
Didn't l tell you|to watch the roof?
Now we all could've been killed 'cause|you didn't have the sense to look up!
That's my dad.
How'd it go?
Well, l told you.|You spend the summer shovelin' coal...
and you'll be playin'|linebacker next fall.
What's the matter, Homer?|Not cut out for mining coal?
Let's get that mess cleaned up!
Let's get some cribbin' on that roof!
Buck up, Homer.|You're a Coalwood boy.
When you get down in the mine,|get that coal shovel in your hand...
feel just as natural to you|as a tick on a dog.
Get that slate off the loader!
lt's the radio signal transmitted|by the Soviet Sputnik.
Listen for the sound which forevermore|separates the old from the new.
That's it? That's the Sputnik?
- That's Sputnik.|- Well, big deal.
Big deal?|What you fail to grasp...
is that the sound you're hearin'|is bein' transmitted by an object...
that is travelin'|at 18,000 miles per hour...
559 miles high,|and orbitin' the Earth--
- Shut up!|- Boys, not in my class!
Thank you, Quentin.
Now Quentin's right, y'all.
Sputnik is a milestone in history.
Things'll never be the same again.
- What do you think about that, Homer?|- Well, yes, ma'am.
Cat got your tongue?
We were talkin'|about bein' in orbit...
hundreds of miles|away from the Earth.
You know anything about that?
l got my eye on you, boy.
Now who can tell me|why Sputnik is so important?
We ought to just shoot|the damn thing down.
lt's got one of them|little spy cameras in it.
lt takes pictures of every one|of our missile bases.
This country'd better get on the ball|before it's too late.
All l know is this Sputnik|had better show up soon.
l'm gettin' a crick in my neck.
All right. What you need to do|is take her to the movies.
Somethin' scary, like|''Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.''
Then you take your arm and put it up|round the back of her chair, like so.
When it gets scary, and she ain't payin'|attention to nothin' but the movie...
you sort of let your arm sort|of slide on down her shoulder...
real nice and slow and easy until--
- l see it! Right there!|- Where? Where?
You seein' things, Carl?
- l see it.|- Where do you see it?
l see it.|lt's right there.
Sons of bitches gonna be droppin' bombs|on us from up there.
Don't know why they'd drop|a bomb on this place.
Be a heck of a waste of a bomb.
The first game against Welch, that's|the one that's gonna draw the scouts.
Yeah. Welch knows it too.|They're gonna be coming after us.
Be careful, Jim. Last year, those two|boys from Welch got their arms broken.
- Well, they started it.|- lt don't matter much who started it.
l don't call that football.
You don't worry about Jim.
Ain't nobody on the Welch team|that can catch him.
l wish the scouts could've seen|that first game with Bluefield.
l'm gonna build a rocket.
Well, l'm not sayin' it's gonna|go up in space or anything...
but l'm gonna do it.
l'm gonna build a rocket.
Just don't blow yourself up.
More eggs, anybody?
- Nice rocket, Homer.|- How high do you think it will fly?
Well, l got it packed with|the powder from 30 sky rockets.
Three, four miles.
- Eight. Seven. Six.|- Should we get behind somethin'?
My rocket blew up.
- Are you okay?|- l guess.
My heart's poundin'. l thought|the mine blew up. Oh, Homer.
l waited six months for the company|carpenter to put up that fence.
Didn't l tell you|not to blow yourself up?
Then let's not.
- Elsie.|- lt's all right, Ms. Fields!
lt's all right.
Dear Dr. von Braun.
- Six. Five. Four. Three--|- My name is Homer Hickam.
l'm 17 and l live in a small|mining town in West Virginia.
l'm writing to offer my condolences|to you and your team...
on your recent attempt|to launch the Vanguard rocket.
l also had a disastrous occurrence|during the launch of my small rocket.
Since here in Coalwood|everyone's much more interested...
in what's down below the earth|than what's above it...
there isn't a whole lot of material|to be found on the subject of rocketry.
So l've been kind of stumbling|around in the dark.
You can't be seen with him, Homer.
He's a weirdo. You go ahead...
but you can kiss|your social life good-bye.
- Hi, Homer.|- Hi.
l don't let anybody|copy my homework.
l don't wanna copy|your homework.
Do you know anything|about rockets?
Of course l do.
You wanna come with me|over to the library?
What do you wanna know|about rockets?
Well, rocketry was actually invented|by the Chinese as early as 1,000 A.D.
And, supposedly,|they were quite sophisticated.
Potassium chlorate and sulphur.
Well, what'd you use?
Uh, somethin' like that.
Hey, Quentin, this is great.
This is exactly-- We have|everything we need in here.
Roy Lee, drive me to my house.
- We can use my basement.|- At least nobody'll see us down there.
- Go, go, go.|- Come on.
You got a loose choke cable.
You hear that?
The butterfly valve|isn't closin' all the way.
Uh, last year l built|an internal combustion engine...
and entered it|in the science fair.
Yeah, well, you wouldn't happen|to have it on you, would you?
- Ow!|- l'm sorry.
You missed a spot.
This thing's startin'|to look like a rocket.
Listen to this. ''Weld the washer|to the base of the rocket body...
creating a combustion chamber|and nozzle.''
- We don't know how to weld.|- Weld.
Your brother's in metal shop.|Maybe he could, uh--
- Do we really need this nozzle thing?|- For cryin' out loud.
The nozzle's the most important part.|lt directs the flow of the hot gases!
Cool it, Quentin.
Man, talkin' about your hot gases.
l don't think your father would like you|sneaking up in the middle of the night.
And l know that he wouldn't like me|welding for you on company time.
Well, what if l paid|the company for your time?
Homer, l can't.
l would lose my job.
Did you see Sputnik go over|the other night?
'Cause it was beautiful.
l stood there and watched it|streak across the sky.
And anywhere in the world, someone could|look up and see exactly what l saw.
For once, it felt like Coalwood|was part of the outside world.
Homer, believe me, there are much worse|places than Coalwood in this world.
Besides, this is just|a flying piece of steel.
A rocket took it up there,|Mr. Bykovsky.
l don't know. l--
When l was workin'|on this rocket, l felt like--
l felt like l was,|like l was Wernher von Braun.
Let me see.
it will be our secret.
Mr. Bykovsky did|a dang good job on this.
Yeah, well,|he used a washer for the weld.
- lt looks like it did in the picture.|- Prodigious.
When do we go?
- Give me that.|- Saturday--
What is this,|a weapon of some kind?
No, sir. lt's a rocket.
l don't allow dangerous devices|on school grounds.
- l asked Homer to bring that to school.|- To show it in class.
You know, the boys are thinkin'|about enterin' that county science fair.
Be careful, gentlemen.
- l'm gonna have my eye on you.|- Thank you, Mr. Turner.
That science fair is rigged.|All the judges are from Welch...
so only the kids from Welch|ever win.
And besides,|science fairs are for geeks.
No offense, Quentin.
Well, it's too bad|you feel that way.
The winners go on to the National|Science Fair in lndianapolis...
and colleges from all over|the country hand out scholarships.
lt's great.|Have a good lunch, boys.
College scholarships|for winning a science fair?
Well, maybe it's not for you.
- Well, what do you mean?|- Homer, you got a great mind.
But science requires math...
which has never been|one of your favorite subjects.
Can't just dream your way|out of Coalwood, Homer.
AUK l.|Stroke of genius, Homer.
lt won't fly unless somebody|lights the fuse.
What the hell is an auk?
lt's a bird that don't fly.
What, kind of like a parakeet?
Well, Youngstown's|always been fair, Otis, but...
you're askin' me to lay off|damn near half the town.
The mine is just not producin'...
the way it was|ten years ago, John.
We're payin' the same labor|for half the tonnage.
What if we were|to open up a new shaft?
That coal is down there, Otis.
You just let me go after it.
The Coalwood mine|has given out, Mr. Hickam.
- Ten--|- Nine. Eight.
Seven. Six. Five.
Four. Three. Two--
Holy shit, it's headed for the mine!
l told you we didn't know|what we were doin'!
God in heaven, l thought|it was a guided missile!
l thought the damn Russians|were attackin' us.
The boy's in trouble now.
So this is what you been up to|in the basement, huh?
- Yes, sir.|- Damn, Homer.
You could've killed somebody|with this idiot thing.
l know. l'm sorry.
Homer here wants to be a|rocket scientist. ls that it, John?
He has no idea|what he wants to be.
But l know what he is.|He's a menace...
and he's a damn thief.
- Dad--|- And so is whoever helped you.
lke Bykovsky did this,|didn't he?
Don't you ever|let me catch you...
with these fool things on company|property again, you understand me?
- Yes, sir.|- Then go home.
Yeah?|What's your tunnel number?
He called me a thief, Ma,|in front of everybody.
- How could he do that?|- He was dead wrong callin' you that.
He'd never have done that to Jim.
They could catch Jim|stickin' up the company store...
and Dad would probably laugh|and say, ''That's my boy.''
l know he's hard to understand|sometimes, Homer...
but you have to know|he loves you.
He loves the mine,|more than Jim even.
- More than you.|- You hush up.
What's it given him back?
Nothin' but a spot on his lung|the size of a damn quarter.
You don't know|what the mine gives me.
You don't know|'cause you're still a boy.
But, by golly, you're gonna|find out soon enough.
l'm never goin' down there.
You better have a talk|with your son, Elsie...
'cause he's out of control.
Where's my rocket stuff?
Right where they belong.
Quentin, you know, that rocket|went up at least 100 feet.
More like 200.
- Will you cut it out, Roy Lee?|- Die, you son of a bitch.
- Come on. My turn now.|- Hey, man. What's with you?
We should be tryin'|to get in that science fair...
instead of sittin' around here|like a bunch of hillbillies.
l got some really bad news for you,|Homer. We are a bunch of hillbillies.
Besides, um, didn't your dad|say no more rockets?
He said no more rockets|on company property.
Do you realize how far we'd have to go|to get off company property?
- Yeah. We have to go to Snakeroot.|- Snakeroot? That's eight miles.
lt's not that far.|We could walk if we have to.
Oh, walk.|That's a fantastic idea.
- Let's go! Come on!|- Wake the hell up, will ya, Homer?
l got about as much chance|of winnin' that science fair...
as you do winnin'|a football scholarship.
l know l'm gonna be a miner.|l've known my entire life.
What the hell's so bad|about minin' coal?
Nothin', Roy Lee.|Coal minin's great.
That's why your stepdaddy's|the biggest drunk in West Virginia.
l mean, come on, guys!|You know the mine'll kill ya.
Did you ever hear the story|about how O'Dell's dad died?
- Homer, will you forget it?|- Shut up, Homer.
A piece of slate caught him right|in the neck and cut his head clear off.
Bitch! Come on!
Get off of me!
Hey, fellas,|we're lookin' for U.S. 52.
Just stay left at the fork. lt's about|another five miles straight ahead.
You fellas see the way|she was lookin' at me?
Man, you all wanna|be coal miners...
you all go ahead|and be coal miners.
God's honest truth, Homer...
what are the chances...
of a bunch of kids from Coalwood...
actually winnin'|the National Science Fair?
A million to one, O'Dell.
Well, why didn't you say so?|Come on. Give me that.
We hiked eight miles for this?
Oh, it's great.|What should we call it?
How 'bout a slack dump?
What about ''No Man's Land''?
l mean, it's perfect.
We could build a blockhouse|over there...
and a launchpad.
And we could even build|a test stand!
Dear Dr. von Braun. Our launch site,|which we've named Cape Coalwood...
is nearing completion.
Thanks to the generosity|of local businesses.
lnspired by our efforts...
everyone is anxious to help|by donating materials.
We've been fortunate to have|the support of our classmates.
And the whole community|here in Coalwood is behind us.
Hey, rocket boy.|Mars is that way.
But no one has been more encouraging|to our efforts than my father.
No, the company doesn't have|any cement left over for launchpads.
- l just thought l'd ask.|- Besides, l told you no more rockets.
You said no more rockets|on company property.
And Olga doesn't own Snakeroot.
So, you walk eight miles?
Well, tell me something, Homer.
Uh, what exactly is|this Wernher von Braun...
and the rest of those Germans|accomplishin' anyway?
'Cause if you ask me,|it's nothin' but a stunt.
You think catchin' up to the Russians|in space is a stunt?
When the novelty wears off,|they're all gonna be sent packin'.
Maybe then they'll have|to find themselves a real job.
Like minin' coal?
You listen here.
The coal we mine|makes steel, Homer.
And if steel fails,|this country fails.
lf you had half a damn brain|in your head, you'd know that.
Well, who's down there now?
Hold on just a second.|Hey, listen here.
l had an engineer estimate|a new walkway.
They had some cement left over...
so it got caught in the rain,|it's probably ruined.
But if you wanna haul it out,|it's all yours.
l'll be down in a minute.
And Miss Riley wanted to make sure|you document your results.
You will be graded|when she returns.
You have one hour.
Potassium chloride|has a potassium atom.
lf we mix it with sugar|and add heat...
we'll get three parts oxygen,|two parts carbon dioxide...
along with some|other by-products.
ln other words,|lots of good expanding gases.
lt should make|an excellent propellant.
lt smells like candy.
Better get started.
All right, quick.|Get rid of it.
Mr. Bolden, have you seen|Mr. Bykovsky around?
He's not in the shop anymore.
Your dad sent him down to the mine.
He's takin' it out on you|because you helped me.
That's enough of that.|Your father is a fair man.
lf he's strict,|it's because he has to be.
Besides, he did me a big favor,|transferring me from the machine shop.
What are you talkin' about?
l can make twice as much money|down there working the high coal.
l've got relatives in Europe who've|had hard time recovering from the war.
They depend on me|for whatever l can provide.
So l can use the extra money.
l'm just sorry l won't be able to weld|any more rockets for you.
That's for good luck.
Maybe you could teach me|how to weld.
- Welding is very difficult, Homer.|- l could learn.
You don't give up, do you?
- Come on, son.|- Hi, Mr. Bolden.
Hey, Homer.|l heard you tellin' lke...
you were gonna be shootin' off|another rocket up here today.
l thought that might|be somethin' we'd like to see.
Nine. Eight. Seven.
Hey, look out!
- Mr. Bolden, are you okay?|- l'm all right.
- l'm sorry about that.|- That's all right.
Homer, l flew with the Red Tails|in World War ll.
And seein' that rocket|come at me...
it almost took me back there.
Let me have|a look at that thing.
That's a good job|on the weld, Homer...
but the heat from the exhaust|melted the washer.
lt's referred to as a nozzle, sir.
Son, you can call it|whatever you wanna call it...
but you're gonna have to have|a better steel that can take the heat.
Now l'd say S.A.E. 10-20 bar stock|ought to do you fine.
- And l can order it for you.|- Well, that'd be great, Mr. Bolden.
But it's kind of expensive.
Twelve miles of scrap iron,|and all we gotta do is pop it loose.
Now what are we gonna tell the railroad|when they catch us pryin' up the track?
lt's abandoned. See, the county's|covered with abandoned spur lines.
A mine shuts down,|the track just rusts over.
This is worth $8.20?
- Go, go!|- This thing weighs a ton all by itself!
Four hundred pounds.
Four hundred pounds?
O'Dell, you're sayin' this thing|is worth a buck 65?
lt's abandoned.|Uh, look at the rust.
Caretta number two|shut down in '51.
Get it up! Get it up!|Just get it up!
Give me a hand, man.|Come on!
Forget it! Forget it!|Just stop the train!
- Stop!|- Stop! The track's out!
S.A.E. 10-20 bar stock.
The angle of 30 degrees is crucial.|When the fuel combusts...
it creates a controlled explosion.
The nozzle directs|a river of hot gas...
that can reach the speed of sound|when it hits the mouth of the nozzle!
Hey, Quentin. Sorry.
lt's called a tapered bore.
A tapered bore. Now he's takin' off|just a little bit at a time.
Good deed, good deed.
l'm concerned that the mass|of the added propellant...
compared to the mass of the empty rocket|will be too little.
He's afraid it'll be too heavy.
Why don't we just make it longer?
Longer would allow increased volume|for the propellant...
without much additional mass.
We got one!
My guess is, is we're gettin' air|pockets in the body of the propellant.
When the fire hits 'em, they act|like little combustion chambers.
l think we're gonna need|a liquid binder of some sort.
- What about gasoline?|- That's a good idea.
''Four unidentifiable|high school students...
lost their lives earlier this mornin'|when their toy rocket exploded.''
Alcohol.|l mean, alcohol's stable.
And it'll evaporate quickly.
Yeah, but it'd have|to be 100% undiluted.
None of that watered-down stuff|they sell at the company store.
l have no idea|where we could find that.
Listen. l know these fellas,|so let me do all the talkin'.
l'm not gonna say a word.
ls that rocket fuel or what?
How'd they find out about it?
We poop out this time, the whole|county's gonna be laughin' at us.
- Who cares what any of them think?|- Easy for you to say, Quentin.
- You're used to being made fun of.|- All right now.
Quentin's right, y'all.
Homer, you don't have to prove|anything to anybody.
You remember that.
Now go launch yourself a rocket.
- ls that thing really gonna fly?|- Well, it--
That thing had better fly...
or you can kiss your chances|of losin' your virginity good-bye.
Hey, couldn't you guys|find somethin' better to do?
Hey, listen.|There's no practice on Saturdays.
You little sisters|are the only entertainment in town.
Yeah, we were gonna drive over to war,|but then we thought...
hey, let's go see Homer|blow himself up.
That's real funny, Jim.
Hey, Homer, come on.|We don't got all day.
Shut up, Jim.
- Everything ready?|- Wait.
What do you mean, wait?|Where you goin'?
Hurry up, y'all.
lt won't fly unless|somebody pulls the string.
Ten. Nine. Eight.
Oh, my God!
Homer, that was unbelievable!
Let's go, Dorothy.
l'll tell you|what's unbelievable.
The captain of the football team|bein' jealous of you.
What you think about gettin'|in that science fair now?
l think we got a chance.
Well, bless her heart.
Aunt Joanne hasn't seen you|in about a year and a half.
- You look like a sausage.|- He does not.
Happy birthday, Homer.
lt'll stretch when you wear it. Be sure|and send her a nice thank you note now.
- All right.|- John?
Oh, happy birthday, Homer.
And l got this in the mail.
Must be a present from Grandma.
lt's an autographed picture.
- Of Grandma? Rather get socks.|- Wernher von Braun.
Well, wonder how he knew|it was your birthday.
l don't reckon he did.
''Dear Homer, congratulations|on your rocket building.
Continue your education|and maybe one day--''
Boy, you better take an interest|in your own damn town...
instead of wastin' your time|worryin' about...
Wernher von Braun|and Cape Canaveral.
John, it's his birthday.
All right, Homer.
Homer, there's strike talk|startin' up again. Your father's--
Yeah, he's got a lot on his mind.|Well, l don't give a damn!
''Principles of|Guided Missile Design.''
l had Miss Waters order it for you|a while back, and it just came.
l know the math is too advanced for you.|lt is for me too.
- There's calculus, differential equa--|- l'll learn the math.
This is great, Miss Riley.|l'll learn everything.
lt's the best present|anyone's ever given me.
Thank you.|l'm gonna show the guys.
- Quentin will probably go cra--|- Goodness gracious.
Watch where you're goin'.
- Where'd you get this?|- l gave it to him.
Bye, Miss Riley.
Miss Riley, our job is to give these|kids an education, not false hopes.
Do you want me to sit quiet...
let 'em breathe in coal dust|the rest of their life?
Miss Riley, once in a while...
a lucky one will get out|on a football scholarship.
The rest of 'em|work in the mines.
How about l believe|in the unlucky ones, hmm?
l have to, Mr. Turner,|or l'd go out of my mind.
- lt's good.|- Homer!
Happy birthday, son.
Got some good news for you, Homer.
Say hello to Fred Smith from|the University of West Virginia.
- Hello, Homer.|- Hi, sir.
Mr. Smith wants Jim to play football.|He's offering him a full scholarship.
Well, congratulations, Jim.
Do you play ball, son?
No, Homer shoots off rockets.|Whoosh and all that.
Well, rockets|are not exactly my field, son...
but maybe if you work hard,|you'll go to college too.
Yeah, on a science fiction|scholarship, maybe.
Dear Dr. von Braun, thank you|for the autographed picture.
lt will only further inspire me|to keep working...
toward our all-important goal of|entering that science fair this spring.
We're shootin' off a rocket today.
l thought you'd like to see it.
l gotta catch up on some work.
How come you never have work|when Jim plays football?
You never miss a game.
What time are you gonna do it?
l can't promise you--
Somebody pulled a pillar|too close.
Well, thank God for that.|Yeah, right now.
Go, Rocket Boys!
Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven.
Four. Three. Two.
You got it?|Can you see?
- No. Yes.|- See it?
Yeah, l got it.
- What's the time?|- Looks like 12 seconds.
- Which one of you is Homer Hickam?|- lt's me, sir.
l'm Basil Thorpe|with the Bluefield Telegraph.
Can l ask you a few questions?
''The silvery cylinder burst forth|in a fiery column of smoke and flame...
racing the very wind|as it soared into the sky...
a messenger of these|Rocket Boys of Big Creek.
These boys who use|their brains, not brawn...
who play not football,|but with Apollo's fire.''
- Hi, Dorothy.|- Would you please sign my newspaper?
l just know you're gonna be|really famous someday.
Which one of you fellas|is Homer Hickam?
- Which cost the taxpayers--|- What in the world is goin' on?
This does not concern you.
You have these boys in handcuffs.
You have these boys in handcuffs|in a high school, Mr. Turner.
You probably heard about|the forest fire last week over by Welch.
- A lot of timber went up in smoke.|- Take these handcuffs off these boys.
They found a rocket|on the side of the road.
We knew it started the fire. What we|didn't know is where it came from...
till this morning.
Mr. Hickam, can you account|for all your rockets?
No, sir. l can't.
lf you weren't a minor,|you'd be in the state penitentiary.
- l know, Dad.|- Homer, l've been confused by you.
l've been mad as hell at you.
But it's the first time in your life|l've been ashamed of you.
You couldn't stop, man.|You couldn't!
Get in the car, Homer!|Homer, get in the car!
ldiot! l ought|to goddamn kill ya.
We ain't at the mine now.|This ain't your business.
You get in the car|with Homer, son.
You listen to me,|you drunken son of a bitch.
lf that boy's father was alive,|he'd kick your ass.
So l'm gonna|have to do it for him.
lf l see him with a bruise,|you get a scar.
lf l see him with a limp,|you get crutches!
You hear me?|Do you hear me?
You know,|l'm reportin' you to the union!
Screw you|and your damn union.
Your father was one of the best men|l ever had workin' for me.
l was lucky to know him.
Let's go have some fun|for a change.
They watched us get arrested.
We're practically ex-convicts.
They'll never dance with us.
You don't know anything about women.
l heard she broke up|with that dumb jock.
See you later, Elvis.
Many a tear has to fall
But it's all in the game
All in the wonderful game
That we know
- You have words with him|- Jim, look who's here.
Ain't it past your bedtime?
And your future's looking dim
- But these things|- Way to go.
Your hearts can rise
Once in a while he won't call
When the twilight is gone
- Hi, Valentine.|- And no songbirds are singing
l'm glad you didn't go to jail.
You come into my heart
And here in my heart|you will stay
lt sure was exciting|watching your rockets go up.
ls to linger with you
At the end of the day
You ever see that movie,|''Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman''?
Down here! Homer!
What is it?
Your father always has to be|the big hero.
l swear to God, if he gets killed,|l won't shed a tear.
lt's comin' up!
Who is it?
lt's lke Bykovsky.
lt's John Hickam.
- The cable snapped.|- May have fractured his skull.
Out of the way!
Move back, folks.|Let us through.
l'll tell you what.
A dozen men would've died today|if it hadn't been for your dad.
Thank you, Doctor.
there's a chance your dad|could lose his eye.
He has to go to the hospital...
and Olga won't pay for all of it.
l'm gonna go to the mine|and ask Jake Mosby to sign me on.
You can't do that, Jim.|You've got school.
Olga owns this house|and half the furniture in it.
lf you drop out,|you'll lose your scholarship.
l'm the oldest.|lt's my responsibility.
l'll work in the mine.
- Here you are.|- Thank you.
Mining coal is|an honorable trade, Mr. Hickam.
Nothing to be ashamed of.
Turn your light on, boy.
Remember when you|gave me these, John?
Carbon crystals from the mine.
At Myrtle Beach.
And you said...
''You always wanted diamonds,|but these are the best l can do.
l wish they were real.''
John, l never wanted diamonds.
This whole year...
has been pretty rough going|down at the mine.
Bad tempers and...
a lot of strike talk.
An accident makes things worse.
ln a way, l guess...
l'm the one who's responsible|for what happened to Mr. Bykovsky.
Listen to me, Homer.
l gave lke the chance to go back|to the machine shop...
and he turned it down.
Yeah, he stayed in the mine|'cause the money was better.
That was his decision.
You understand me?
Well, is mining coal as terrible|as you figured it'd be?
l guess not.
Everybody says to say hi.
Michael and Billy.
How about Miss Riley?
She ain't been around much.|She got some new boyfriend in Welch.
So, what's it like down there?
You get used to it after a while.
Besides, shoveling coal's|got its advantages.
Check this out.
Man, no wonder my stepdad|can slug me so good.
After a month down there,|you'd be able to knock him out.
l ain't in no hurry.
- See you all later.|- See ya, man.
See ya, Homer.
ln Christ's name, we pray.
- Amen.|- Amen.
We appreciate the sacrifice|you made here, Homer.
Pretty soon you'll be able to go back|and finish up the school year.
l'm not going back to school.
A few weeks left in the term,|l'll just stay put.
l think you ought|to finish high school.
Well, tell him, John.
Homer's not a boy anymore.
l don't think|l can tell him anything.
All l'm saying is the cutoff was not|done proper according to contract.
The company did what it had to do.
You know the union|won't put up with it.
Just give it a rest, Jake.
lt's my first day back.
Hey, Lenny, how's he doin'?
He's a chip off the old block.|lt's good to have you back.
l'm headed toward the face.
You wanna come along?
Even though l don't have that piece|of paper-- the thing from college--
they listen to me.
- You know why?|- Because you know more than they do.
You bet your life l do.
Homer, l know the mine|like l know a man.
l can take one look around here--
Are you all right?
l'm not afraid of a little coal dust.
Hell, l was born for this.
l guess it shouldn't surprise me|that you were too.
Let's go watch 'em shoot some coal.
Hold dinner for a while, will ya?|l have to make a call.
l was in the store today,|and l heard some talk.
Boy, it's sure hard to keep a secret|in this town, isn't it?
But l guess l did a pretty good job.
There's a rumor going around...
that l've been sneaking off to Welch|to see some beau.
l wish that rumor'd been true.
They told me Hodgkin's can go into|remission, so l might have some time.
ls there anything l can do,|Miss Riley?
You can accept my apology.
My life's work is teaching.
And l believed that if you boys|won that science fair...
went off and did something great|with your lives...
somehow my life|would have counted for something.
You know what?
Sometimes you really can't listen|to what anybody else says.
You just gotta listen inside.
You're not supposed to end up|in those mines.
You know why?|'Cause l think you made other plans.
l want you to know something.
l'm proud of you.
Whatever you choose.
Excuse me, ma'am.|ls Quentin home?
Homer, you figured|this equation out by yourself?
Well, if l did the math right,|it proves that you can't--
lt proves we didn't start that fire!
Quentin, what are you doing?
Now, the AUK Xlll was the only one|that we couldn't find that day.
And our best guess for fall time|with the AUK Xll...
which is exactly identical,|was about 14 seconds.
lf you help me with the trig part...
we should be able to make a good guess|where that rocket landed.
Are you gonna tell Roy Lee and O'Dell|where l live?
lt wouldn't matter if you lived|in the governor's mansion.
They'd still think you're weird.
- l'll see you at dawn.|- Don't you have to go to the mine?
l don't work there anymore.
A hundred seven.
That's 6,300 feet.
lt's gotta be around here somewhere.
What did we do wrong?
l don't know.
l'll check the math again.
Was there a wind that day?
l don't remember.
'Cause if there was,|the wind probably came from the west...
which means that it|would've pushed the rocket...
Mr. Hayes, where are you off to|in such a hurry?
Everybody, back in your seats.
Miss Stanton, Miss Blue, let's go.
Back in your seats.|Mr. Hancock.
That goes for you, too, Mr. Wilson.
Miss Riley, what's going on here?
They didn't start that fire,|Mr. Turner.
ln the first place, you are not|a member of this classroom.
Neither are you, Mr. Turner.
Why don't you let the boy|defend himself?
And in the second place...
this rocket proves nothing.
You've already admitted|having lost a number of your rockets.
You cannot prove conclusively...
that another one of them|didn't start that fire.
- Yes, l can.|- Oh?
Are we to conclude|that since leaving school...
you've not only become an expert|in rocket science but in trigonometry?
- l didn't say l was--|- You learned more in the coal mines...
than you did in high school.
Let the boy talk.
Go ahead, Homer.
Now, that fire was near Welch...
just under three miles|from our launch pad.
At the time of the fire, the best|that we could do was 1.2 miles...
which is exactly where|we found that rocket.
See, that rocket fell|for about 14 seconds, which means...
that it flew to an altitude|of 3,000 feet...
according to the equation...
''S'' equals one-half ''A-T'' squared...
where ''S'' is the altitude,|''A'' is the gravity constant, or 32...
and ''T'' is the time it took|for that rocket to come back down.
- Velocity equals acceleration...|- Get him, Homer.
Are you following this, Mr. Turner?
All right.|We're all duly impressed.
Would you mind telling me|if you did not start that fire, who did?
What is it?
Whatever it is, it's ingenious.|The fins are spring-loaded.
That isn't a rocket at all.|lt's an aeronautical flare.
There's an airport here in Welch.
lt's right above where|the fire started.
Mr. Hickam, report to my office|as soon as we return to school.
You do intend to enter|the county science fair, do you not?
Yes, sir, we do.
lf you intend|to represent Big Creek...
you're going to have to be enrolled|as a student at Big Creek.
Do you think you can draw well enough|so Mr. Bolden could build it?
Yep. Let me see.
- What's this stuff doin' here?|- We didn't start the fire.
The troopers gave it back to us.
lt wasn't even one of our rockets.
Y'all go on home now.
This the reason|you skipped work today?
l thought you put all this nonsense|behind you, Homer.
- l thought you weren't gonna do it.|- lt isn't nonsense.
l don't wanna argue with ya.
l can't even begin to tell you how proud|of you l've been these past weeks.
You just been doin'|a hell of a job in that mine.
You keep goin',|you're gonna have my job someday.
Everybody says so.
You got any idea|how proud that would make me?
l guess what l'm sayin' is...
that if this rocket stuff|is so important to you...
then so be it...
as long as you're careful.
Guess there's worse hobbies|you could have.
But skippin' work,|that's out of line.
And you got to know that.
So, let's go and get you|right with Jake.
Tell him you'll work|the hoot owl shift tonight.
The coal mine's your life.|lt's not mine.
l'm never goin' down there again.
l wanna go into space.
Homer Hickam, Roy Lee Cook,|Quentin Wilson...
and Sherman O'Dell|of Big Creek High...
for their ingenious display|of amateur rocket-building techniques.
l can't believe we beat the kid|with the robot dog.
l thought the see-through ear|was gonna win.
l got Miss Wade working on|your travel arrangements, so...
you boys are gonna have to decide|who's going to lndianapolis.
- We were all goin'.|- Yeah.
l wish you could, but we can't afford|to send all four of you.
Only one. Let me know.|l'm going to have to know by Friday.
You boys did a fine job today.
l need to borrow a suitcase, and|l'm gonna need you guys' addresses...
because l'm gonna write|some postcards.
Come on, you dope.|You know you're going.
Yeah. Say hello|to the outside world for us.
- Do we know what we want?|- Yeah!
- Are we gettin' it?|- No!
All right. All in favor|of going on strike, say aye!
- Aye!|- All right, let's go!
All right, shut 'em down!|Let's go!
They sure are getting|themselves worked up.
Everybody's saying this one's|gonna be a long one.
And it will, if l have|anything to say about it.
Ungrateful sons of bitches--
Mom, have you seen|the big green suitcase?
- Did you look in the attic?|- Yes, ma'am.
l don't know.|John, you know where the suitcase is?
How the hell should l know|where the suitcase is?
l don't know, sug.
Y'all stay inside!
l'm gonna kill|that son of a bitch.
Don't be a damn fool.
What are we gonna do?
Drunken bastard couldn't hit|the broad side of a barn.
- He tried to kill you.|- You can't just stand there--
Don't trouble yourself, Homer.
You got more important things|to worry about.
Just go look for your suitcase.
Forget about it, Homer.
Shut up, Jim!
l'm sorry about what's going on|around here, but it isn't my fault!
- What do you want from me anyway?|- Watch yourself!
lf l win at lndianapolis,|maybe l can go to college!
Maybe even get a job|at Cape Canaveral!
There's nothin' here for me!
The town is dying! The mine is dying!|Everybody knows it but you!
You wanna get outta here so bad,|then go! Go!
Yeah, l'll go!
And l'll be gone forever!
l won't even look back!
Welcome to lndianapolis.
Visitors to the fair|will include prominent members...
of every branch|of the national scientific community.
The fair will be open to the public|over the next two days.
The following day, the judges|will arrive to select the winners.
By timing the rocket's descent,|we would be able to figure out...
just how high the rocket flew.
Would you like to see?|This is a Delaval nozzle.
Do any of y'all know|what a Delaval--
The judges always go for|the most expensive exhibits.
The guy with the biosphere's|gonna win.
l don't think so. My money's|on the kid with the rocket display.
Have you seen it yet?|lt's really cool.
Mr. Owens to the security office.
lt's not like we got a lot of time.|The judging is tomorrow.
There's nothin' we can do|without Mr. Bolden.
He can't get anywhere near|the machine shop.
They even took my picture|of Dr. von Braun.
They stole everything.
Leon, what are you doing back here?
You know you shouldn't|be seen back here.
l know, Elsie,|but Homer's in trouble.
Elsie, l don't have the power|to settle this strike.
The bosses listen to you.|They'll do what you tell them.
l'm not gonna crawl on my belly...
in front of|those miserable union rats.
ls that what this is about?|ls this about your pride?
lt's about what's best for Coalwood.
lf this mine doesn't produce,|then the town dies.
Think the union gives|a good damn about that?
They're nothin' but a bunch|of greedy sons of bitches--
Shut up. Just shut up.
Homer once said you love the mine|more than your own family.
l took up for you|'cause l didn't wanna believe it.
Homer has gotten a lot of help|from the people in this town.
They've helped him build his rockets.|They've watched him fly 'em.
But not you.
You never showed up, not even once.
l'm not asking you to believe in it,|but he's your son, for God's sake.
And l am asking you to help him.
lf you don't, l'll leave you.
l'll do whatever it takes|to get away from here.
l'll live in a tree to get away|from you. Don't think l won't.
Where would you go?
l guess we all know|this isn't gonna fix things.
At least, not for long.
We know you did|what you could for us.
- Jake.|- Thanks.
- Leon.|- Yes, John?
Don't you have some work to do?
lt's packed and on its way.|Be at the bus station, 8:00 a.m.
- How'd you--|- Your father.
- lt was your father.|- Give 'em hell, Homer!
Good luck, sweetie.
When the rocket propellant burns...
it produces a river of gas|which flows through...
the convergent section|of the nozzle.
lf the river continues|through the nozzle...
but through the throat|at less than sonic speed--
that is to say,|less than the speed of sound--
it becomes compacted|in the divergent section...
bound in turmoil--
Lyle Wells and Jean Cooper...
Schrader High School,|McMinnville, Oregon.
Now, ladies and gentlemen,|for the big moment.
The Highest Scholastic|Achievement Award for Science.
The National Science Fair|first prize gold medal...
goes to Homer Hickam...
Quentin Wilson, Roy Lee Cook|and Sherman O'Dell...
Big Creek High School,|McDowell County, West Virginia.
Tom Webster of Virginia State College.|l wanna talk to you about a scholarship.
Jack Palmer, Virginia Tech.
We got the best science program|in the state.
Congratulations, son.|Good luck to you.
- What did he say to you?|- What did who say?
Von Braun.|That was Wernher von Braun.
You just shook his hand.
- Homer, l'm so proud of you.|- Thanks, Mom.
He's not here, hon.
Where's Miss Riley?
Hello, Miss Riley.
You did it!
l knew you would.
The Rocket Boys|are going to college.
We all got scholarships.
And you know what?
From now on, every school year...
l'm gonna brag to all|my new students about...
how l taught Homer Hickam|and the Rocket Boys.
Maybe one day...
one of them'll feel like|they can do what y'all did.
You know, just,|stuff like that takes time.
Will you let me out?
What are they doin',|charging Olga for that?
lt's gotta have a pump.
Hell, salvage something up here.
- Hey, Dad.|- Hello, Homer.
l just wanted to tell you how much|l appreciate what you did for me.
l know it wasn't easy for you,|so thank you.
We're shooting off our last rocket today|at 5:00, so if you'd like to see it--
l got a lot of work to do.
All right.|l just thought l'd ask.
Hear you met your big hero.
Didn't even know it.
l know you and me don't exactly see|eye to eye on certain things.
l mean, man, we don't see eye to eye|on just about anything.
But l come to believe that l got it|in me to be somebody in this world.
And it's not because|l'm so different from you either.
lt's 'cause l'm the same.
l can be just as hardheaded|and just as tough.
l only hope l can be|as good a man as you are.
l mean, sure, Dr. von Braun's|a great scientist...
but he isn't my hero.
lt's our last rocket.
Yeah, let's do it.
Wire it up for me.|l gotta do something.
Congratulations on winning|the science fair.
- Thanks.|- lt's gotta be...
the most exciting thing|that's ever happened around here.
l was thinking, Homer,|if you've got some time--
Excuse me, Dorothy.
- Good luck.|- Thanks.
Hey, everybody, can we have|your attention, please?
Come on, Homer.|Let 'er fly.
We're gonna launch the rocket,|but we'd like to say thank you first.
lf it wasn't for y'all...
we'd never have gotten|into any science fair.
We'd probably never have gotten past|blowin' up my mom's fence.
But we did, because of|your help and support.
And this is for Coalwood.
There are a few people who believed|in us even before we did.
We'd like to dedicate|this rocket to them.
To lke Bykovsky.
To Mr. Bolden,|who helped us so much.
To the person|who first inspired us:
our teacher, Miss Riley.
And, finally, l'd like|to dedicate this rocket...
to my mom and to...
You know, it won't fly|unless somebody pushes the button.
lt's yours if you want it.
Eight. Seven. Six.
Five. Four. Three.
Look at it go, Homer.
This one's gonna go for miles.
O Brother Where Art Thou
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