The world does not revolve around Beyoncé. Just ask NASA.
In the song “XO”—off her recently released, self-titled album—Bey samples audio footage from the 1986 Challenger Disaster, a horrific accident that claimed the lives of seven astronauts when the space shuttle exploded only 73 seconds after liftoff at the Kennedy Space Center.
The decision to sample audio from the disaster is being called insensitive by current and former astronauts, as well as the family members of those lost in the tragedy.
In the clip—which lasts only six second, now-retired NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt is heard saying, “Flight controllers here looking very carefully. Obviously a major malfunction.”
Hearing the audio used commercially—and for a love song—opened decades-old wounds for June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger Space Commander Dick Scobee.
“We were disappointd to learn that an audio clip from the day we lost our heroic Challenger crew was used in the song, ‘XO,’” she said. “The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues and friends.”
Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee who now runs the NASAWatch.com website asked that Bey removes the clip and apologize to those affected personally by the tragedy—which the 32-year-old was quick to do.
“My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster,” Beyoncé said in a statement to ABC News. “The song ‘XO’ was recorded with the sincerest intentions 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.”
Prior to the release of her unexpected visual album, “XO” was rumored to be Bey’s next major single.