Returning to school after having been in the newspaper, the Rocket Boys discover that they are treated a bit differently. The football players are no longer the heroes, and while they have not achieved the level of hero yet, they are better off.The school curriculum has changed due to Sputnik with hours of homework every night. In addition to this, Sonny is trying to learn calculus and other math in order to be able to launch his rockets better.Miss Riley is his chemistry teacher who one day shows them a chemical reaction they believe would be a good rocket fuel. She is able to let them use it, but they find an alternative and begin to experiment with a fuel they believe will be better than black powder.This chapter continues the battle between mother and father over Sonny, except that for the first time Sonny’s father appears to care about the battle. Beginning with the boys creating their new rocket candy fuel by mixing sugar and saltpeter with his mother, they are able to create rockets that’s main limitation is the oxidation of the metal.At the same time, Sonny’s father invites him to come to the mine with him. Sonny knows he wants to be an engineer and his father sees the opportunity of him becoming a mine engineer. It ends with his mother discovering his father has taken him into the mine and insisting that he will never work in it. She is convinced that it has killed her husband who has a black spot on his lung and will not allow it to kill her son.After making peace with his mother over his trip into the mine, Sonny decides to take his father’s advice and ask Ike Bykovski about Wernher von Braun. This leads to a simple but vital discussion about the possibility of change, forgiveness and even the possibility that Sonny’s father might be jealous of Wernher von Braun.After this, Sonny returns to his rocket building. He gets help from the machinists by trading favors for work. This comes mostly from aid his father gives him, though the man refuses to admit that he is aiding his son in this endeavor.Their rockets are continuing to become successful reaching as much as three thousand feet on one trip, but they begin to fear that their rocket candy has reached its limitation. Yet more importantly, Sonny is beginning to believe that through hard work he can achieve anything. This is reinforced at Christmas when his mother gives him an autographed photo and note from Werner von Braun.Covering only a few days, this chapter gives the Rocket Boys one of the things that they had been looking for through the entire story. His chemistry teacher has gotten him a book which can show them more about how to build a rocket. She has been attempting to get them to go to the science fair throughout the story. She also tells him something vital, that she has gotten him the book, but he has to be the one with the courage to learn what is inside.Having taken sleds to get to the school which was closed for anyone outside of walking distance, Sonny is left alone to return to his town. As he travels, the cold begins to get to him and he is stopped by a woman and invited into her house. She insists that he tell his father, but not his mother that she helped him.Upon telling his father this story, he discovers two things. The first is that the woman sells moonshine and other things to men. The other is that his father pulled her out of a fire that killed everyone else in her family when he was a boy. His father does not see this as heroism though as he blames himself for not having saved any of the others.This chapter begins once again by setting the time — it happened not with dates but with the space race. In this case, the launch of Luna 1. This chapter covers two things. The first being the slow understanding of the rocket book which they have finally gotten, which covers ideas such as De Laval nozzles. They also become convinced that in order to really understand what is in the book, they will need to learn calculus — a class that is not offered by their school.The other important point in this chapter is that there is a pillar explosion in the mine. No one is hurt, but Sonny understands better what that means now than he did before his trip into the mine. It also once again shows the character of his father who lead the rescue crew into the dangerous passages even though he didn’t need to.Finally, it ends with a few more launches. This time, which is largely successful, they prove more than anything that they have reached the limit of what they are likely able to do with their current fuel.Wanting to learn calculus means asking to have the class. The difficulty in this is that the school does not offer the class. They are a mining town high school and don’t think that they need it. Yet the teacher agrees if the principle will agree. The problem is that he knows the superintendent will not allow it.When things seem to change, Sonny and Quentin are called into the principal’s office. Two state troopers have arrived because they believe that one of the boy’s rocket started a fire and burned down some homes. They are ready to arrest them, but their teachers point out a few problems in the logic. The most basic problem being that the place where the fire started was ten miles from the boys’ rocket launching location. Quentin then explains that it is not a rocket at all but an aeronautics’ flare.This seems to be enough to convince the principal to lobby for their class and he gets it for them. But the class has only six spots, raised from five so that all the boy’s in the club can take it. Except that seven people sign up for the class and Sonny, as the boy with the lowest grades, is excluded from the class — a difficulty he takes well even though he was the one who lobbied to get it in the school. The chapter ends with Sonny discovering the book that his father used to help teach himself the math that he needed to run the mine and taking it for himself so that he can learn on his own.