10:22am PT by Hilary Lewis
NASA on Beyonce's Use of Challenger Audio: Tragedy 'Should Never Be Trivialized'
NASA has officially responded to Beyonce's use of audio from the space shuttle Challenger explosion in her new song "XO," saying that the tragedy "should never be trivialized."
"The Challenger accident is an important part of our history, a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized," NASA said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "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."
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Beyonce has been criticized by former NASA employees, astronauts and their family members for using a six-second clip of a NASA public affairs officer commenting on the tragedy as it was unfolding.
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 called Beyonce's choice to use audio from the tragedy at the beginning of a track about a troubled relationship "insensitive."
June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger space shuttle commander Dick Scobee, told ABC News: "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 told ABC that he wants Beyonce to remove the clip and apologize to families of the Challenger crew.
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 "XO" video below.