December 30, 2013 9:18am PT by Hilary Lewis
Beyonce Slammed for Using Challenger Disaster Audio in 'XO' Song
Former NASA astronauts and their family members are calling Beyonce "insensitive" for using audio from the space shuttle Challenger explosion in her new song, "XO," off her surprise, self-titled album.
"Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction," then-NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt said as the tragedy occurred, a six-second audio clip that's now at the beginning of "XO," which is about a troubled relationship.
The Challenger space shuttle exploded shortly after liftoff in 1986, and all seven crewmembers aboard were killed.
Current and former NASA astronauts, employees and Challenger family members told ABC News they were disappointed that Beyonce used audio from the tragedy in a pop song, calling the choice "insensitive."
June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger space shuttle commander Dick Scobee, told ABC: "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."
Former NASA employee Keith Cowing added: "This choice of historic and solemn audio is inappropriate in the extreme. The choice is little different than taking Walter Cronkite's words to viewers announcing the death of President Kennedy or 911 calls from the World Trade Center attack and using them for shock value in a pop tune."
Cowing, who now runs NASAWatch.com, also tells ABC that he wants Beyonce to remove the clip and apologize to families of the Challenger crew.
Several current astronauts, who are not authorized to speak publicly, expressed their dismay to ABC News privately.
In a statement released to ABC News, Beyonce expressed her sympathies for the families of those who died in the Challenger disaster and indicated she didn't mean any offense by using the audio.
"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," she said. "The songwriters included the audio in tribute to the unselfish work of the Challenger crew with hope that they will never be forgotten."
Watch the video for "XO" below.