“XO,” the latest track from Houston-native Beyoncé, is being criticized by NASA for use of audio from the 1986 Challenger space shuttle explosion.
On January 28, 1986, all seven crew members aboard the Challenger were killed after the space shuttle disintegrated 73 seconds after launching. Moments later, NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt voiced to the public in a now famous quote, which was used as the lead-in for Beyonce’s latest single, “Flight control is here looking very carefully at the situation, obviously a major malfunction.”
NASA responded to the song by releasing a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter:
“The Challenger accident is an important part of our history, a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized. NASA works every day to honor the legacy of our fallen astronauts as we carry out our mission to reach for new heights and explore the universe.”
Families of the fallen astronauts were also disappointed by the singer’s six-second Challenger snippet. June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee, said this to ABC News:
“The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues and friends. We have always chosen to focus not on how our loved ones were lost, but rather on how they lived and how their legacy lives on today.”
Beyoncé answered the criticism by expressing her sympathy for the affected families and her interpretation of the audio’s meaning.
“My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster. The song ‘XO’ was recorded with the sincerest intention to help heal those who have lost loved ones and to remind us that unexpected things happen, so love and appreciate every minute that you have with those who mean the most to you. The songwriters included the audio in tribute to the unselfish work of the Challenger crew with hope that they will never be forgotten.”
If you haven’t already heard the song, here it is: