Why NASA just called out pop star Beyonce over the Challenger disaster

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Jan 2, 2014, 11:03 AM EST (Updated)

Apparently the folks at NASA were recently forced to call out pop superstar Beyonce in regard to the Challenger disaster. Huh? Yeah, this is pretty weird.

The Grammy-winning musician recently dropped a hit self-titled album, and along the way sampled a brief piece of audio from the communication tapes of the 1986 Challenger disaster that killed all seven crew members of the doomed shuttle.

The piece of audio, which notes the “major malfunction” that led to the explosion, was used early in the song “XO,” which led a NASA official to release a statement saying the disaster “should never be trivialized,” in reference to the usage in the song, which is partially about the failure of a relationship. Ouch.

Here’s a longer excerpt from NASA's press secretary Lauren B. Worley:

“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.”

The musician later apologized for any offense the song has caused, but defended its usage in the track, noting it was meant as a “tribute” to those who lost their lives in the crash. Check out Beyonce’s statement below:

“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.”

Yeah, this one is a little strange. Obviously, it’s not uncommon for random audio to pop up in songs, but you’d think someone along the way would’ve stepped in and pointed out this could be a really bad idea. Even with the best of intentions, it can still come off as trivializing to include the audio in a for-profit pop song.

You can check out the song below. The controversial sample comes within the first few seconds:

What do you think of all the controversy the track has stirred up?

(Via The Associated Press)

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