Beyonce has been criticised by NASA officials over the use of the audio grab from the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster in her new song XO.
NASA along with family members of the fallen astronauts have responded to the sample use. NASA’s press secretary told the Associated Press, “The Challenger accident is an important part of our history, a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialised.”
Among the family of the fallen astronauts, June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee, spoke out against it and said that she was disappointed and described the use of the sample as “emotionally difficult”.
The response from NASA came after Beyonce had explained the inclusion of the audio but stopped short of an apology. She had acknowledged that the song “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.”
Beyonce had a few supporters with Slate’s Forrest Wickman pointing out that the song is “about mortality and about the urgency of spending time with the ones you love before you lose them, because you never know when that could be.” The theme of transience is most evident in the song’s second verse: “We don’t have forever / Oh, baby daylight’s wasting / You better kiss me / Before our time has run out.”
The 1986 Challenger accident was the worst in NASA’s history. All seven crew members on board died in the tragedy.