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NASA responds to Beyonce's use of Challenger disaster audio: Trivializes event

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NASA issued a statement late Tuesday, saying that it was disappointed with Beyonce's use of snippets of audio from just after the shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff in 1986, killing all seven crew members. The statement, via the AP, came after the singer explained the use of the short snippet in a statement to ABC News on Tuesday, but stopped short of an apology.

Beyonce said:

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.

However, "XO" is a song about a failed relationship, and as such, NASA implied, trivialized the event.

Lauren B. Worley, NASA's press secretary, said:

The Challenger accident is an important part of our history; a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized. 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.

June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee, was among those critical of the snippet's inclusion. She described the use of the audio as "emotionally difficult."

On January 28, 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger (mission STS-51-L) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members. An investigation determined that an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff. That breach allowed pressurized hot gas from within the solid rocket motor to reach the outside of the SRB, leading to the structural failure of the external fuel tank.

A video of the song is embedded.

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