Beyonce "Trivialized" Challenger Tragedy That Killed 7, Says Widow And NASA

By Gabrielle Jonas on December 31, 2013 1:53 PM EST

Beyonce's Song Includes the Sound of the Explosion That Killed This Astronaut
Astronaut and Challenger Flight Leader Francis R. (Dick) Scobee poses with a model of the Challenger Space Shuttle while holding his shuttle helmet. (Photo: NASA)

The widow of the Challenger flight commander and the U.S. Space Agency NASA say that singer Beyonce trivialized the death of six astronauts and a school teacher by using audio from the space shuttle Challenger explosion in her song 'XO.' All six crew members, including school teacher Christa McAuliffe, died in the Challenger explosion, which occurred about a minute after take-off and was witnessed by spectators at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and by millions of horrified people in front of their television sets on January 28, 1986.

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"The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues, and friends," Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, widow of flight commander Dick Scobee, said in a statement to CNN TV affiliate Central Florida News 13 in Orlando. "We were disappointed to learn that an audio clip from the day we lost our heroic Challenger crew was used in the song XO.'"

NASA was none too pleased either, CNN reported Monday, as the space agency apparently was made an unwitting accomplice in the love song, with its own ex-public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt narrating the beginning of Beyonce's song with the announcement he had made decades ago as the Challenger was disintegrating, "Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously, a major malfunction."

NASA is not happy. "The Challenger accident is an important part of our history; a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized," NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said. "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."

The singer's defense of her choice is as phony as her lip-synching at President Obama's Second Inauguration last January. Though 'XO' is about a love affair, Beyonce claims in hindsight it's a "tribute" to the astronauts and school teacher who were killed in the explosion. "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," Beyonce said in a statement reported by ABC News on Monday. 

"This choice of historic and solemn audio is inappropriate in the extreme," Former NASA employee Keith Cowing wrote in his blog, Nasawatch.com — not an official NASA website. "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 asked Beyonce to remove the clip.  

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