US singer Beyonce has been rebuked by NASA for using an audio clip from the Challenger shuttle disaster in a new song.
XO, from Beyonce’s new album, begins with a six-second clip taken from television footage as the shuttle exploded and fell to Earth on Jan. 28, 1986, killing all seven crew.
Steve Nesbitt, a NASA public affairs official, is heard to say: “Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction.”
NASA issued a statement late on Tuesday saying: “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,” it added.
Beyonce had earlier stood by the song, about a struggling relationship, saying the audio was included “in tribute to the unselfish work of the Challenger crew with hope that they will never be forgotten.”
However, Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee, described the sample as “inappropriate in the extreme” and little different from using 911 calls from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the US.
June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of the Challenger’s commander, Dick Scobee, who died aboard the shuttle, said: “We were disappointed to learn that an audio clip from the day we lost our heroic Challenger crew was used in the song XO. 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,” she added.
XO is the first radio single from Beyonce’s new album, which was released without advance publicity on Dec. 16.