Ronald Reagan’s “Challenger” Speech Summary, Text, & Analysis

February 28, 2023

5 min read

If you are looking for Ronald Reagan’s “Challenger” speech summary, text, and analysis, we have provided one for you. As the 40th president of the United States, President Ronald Reagan’s speech was a message of hope following the tragic and immediate explosion of the Challenger spacecraft.

Ronald Reagan’s “Challenger” Speech Summary

  • Today is a day of mourning and remembering the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
  • The Challenger 7 were aware of the dangers but were bold and brave in the face of them.
  • We are mourning the loss of the 7 heroes that were part of the Challenger mission.
  • We have grown used to the wonders of space travel and can forget the courage it takes.
  • We must stay brave and use the inspiration of these heroes to keep going and exploring in space.
  • We pay tribute to the Challenger crew, acknowledging their dedication and bravery.

Ronald Reagan’s “Challenger” Speech Text

Yoodli, the AI speech coach, automatically generated the following text for President Reagan’s “Challenger” speech:

"Ladies and gentlemen, I’d plan to speak to you tonight to report in the State of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day from mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pain to the core, but the tragedy of the shuttle challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss. 19 years ago, almost of the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground.

But we’ve never lost an astronaut in flight. We’ve never had a tragedy like this, and perhaps we’ve forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle, but they, the Challenger seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes, Michael Smith, Dick Scoby, Judith Resnick, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis and Christopher Oloff. We mourn their loss as a nation together, the families of the seven.

We cannot bear as you do the full impact of this tragedy, but we feel the loss and we’re thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, give me a challenge and I’ll meet it with joy. They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths they wish to serve, and they did. They served all of us.

We’ve grown use to wonders in this century. It’s hard to dazzle us, but for 25 years, the United States Space Program has been doing just that. We’ve grown used to the idea of space and perhaps we forget that we’ve only just begun. We’re still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew were pioneers. And I want to say something to the Schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttles takeoff.

I know it’s hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the Fainthearted. It belongs to the brave. The Challenger Crew was pulling us into the future and we’ll continue to follow them. I’ve always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it.

We don’t hide our space program. We don’t keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That’s the way freedom is, and we wouldn’t change it for a minute. We’ll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews, and yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here. Our hopes and our journeys continue. I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades, and we know of your anguish.

We share it. There’s a coincidence today. On this day, 390 years ago, the Great Explorer, sir Francis Drake, died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime, the great frontiers were the oceans, and the historian later said he lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it. Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew, their dedication was like Drake’s Complete. The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us for the manner in which they lived their lives.

We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them this morning as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God. Thank you."

Ronald Reagan’s “Challenger” Speech Analysis

Word Choice


With an average pace of 156 words per minute, President Reagan spoke faster than the recommended conversational tone. However, his overall delivery was aided with the use of pauses. Implementation of pauses throughout your speech helps your audience better engage with the content of your speech.

Wrapping Up


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