McDowell County native Homer Hickam, Jr. is best known for his book Rocket Boys, the story of how six teenagers in a 1950s West Virginia coal company town went on to win the National Science Fair in 1960. One night in October 1957, Hickam’s life changed forever when the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1 – the world’s first artificial earth satellite – flew over his hometown of Coalwood.
“I knew at that moment that somehow, some way, I wanted to be involved in this movement into space.”
And indeed he was. We join Homer Hickam at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama and hear how he designed the Underwater Astronaut Trainer there and his work on the Space Lab at the Marshall Space Flight Center next door.
Then, following a very successful career as an aerospace engineer, Hickam launched an even more successful career as a writer. To date, Hickam has sold more than 2.5 million books. The story of the Rocket Boys was made into a successful Hollywood film, October Sky, and the stage musical Rocket Boys, the Musical.