Pop star Beyoncé is under fire for using audio from the 1986 Challenger disaster in her new song “XO.”
The controversial audio clip is a recording of NASA’s public affairs officer, Steve Nesbitt, in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. As the song begins, Nesbitt can be heard saying: “Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction.” The space shuttle Challenger exploded on Jan. 28, 1986 only 73 seconds after liftoff, killing seven crew members. Family members and friends were present, and the launch was filmed live on CNN.
Family members of the lost crew members quickly took offense to the audio usage. Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger Commander Dick Scobee, released a statement: “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.”
In a statement to ABC News, Beyoncé responded: “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.”
You can watch the “XO” music video here: