Some of those closest to the 1986 Challenger disaster are speaking out against Beyoncé, after the songstress included an audio clip from the time of the shuttle’s explosion in her new pop song “XO.”
On Jan. 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded almost immediately after liftoff, killing seven crew members.
In a six-second audio clip at the start of the song, NASA’s public affairs officer at the time, Steve Nesbitt, is heard saying, “Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction.”
And those who vividly remember the horrifying disaster were quick to take notice. The widow of Challenger Commander Dick Scobee, June Scobee Rodgers, issued a statement about the use of the audio on behalf of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, an organization formed by the families of the astronauts in the their memory.
“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 said in a statement posted on NASAWatch.com.
Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee, who runs NASAWatch.com echoed similar sentiments and called for Beyoncé to apologize to the families.
“These words were uttered as the crew and their disintegrating vehicle were still falling into the sea. These words are forever etched into the psyche of everyone who was watching that day and still echo across the years for the generation that followed… This choice of historic and solemn audio is inappropriate in the extreme.”
The pop star responded by issuing a statement about the song, according to News.com.au.
“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.”
The song is about a girl in a relationship and includes lyrics like "I love you like XO, you love me like XO, you kill me boy XO."
The Challenger Center for Space Science Education could not be reached for further comment.