Nasa warns Beyonce that Challenger tragedy should not be trivialised

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 January, 2014, 11:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 January, 2014, 11:01pm


Officials of Nasa, the US space agency, say the Challenger disaster "should never be trivialised" in response to a new song from Beyonce that features an audio sample recorded just after the space shuttle exploded on takeoff in 1986, killing all seven crew members.

The space agency issued the statement late on Tuesday after the pop star received criticism from families of those who died in the explosion and others for using the short sample of mission control describing the disaster as a "major malfunction", as an allusion to a failed relationship.

"The Challenger accident is an important part of our history; a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialised," said Lauren Worley, Nasa's press secretary. "Nasa works every day to honour the legacy of our fallen astronauts as we carry out our mission to reach for new heights and explore the universe."

Nasa's response came after Beyonce explained the use of the short snippet in a statement to ABC News on Tuesday that stopped short of an apology. The sample appears at the beginning of her song "XO" from her new self-titled album.

Among those critical of the sample was June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee. She told ABC in a statement that she was disappointed and described the use of the sample as "emotionally difficult".

"My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster," Beyonce said. "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."

Beyonce released her new self-titled "visual album" earlier this month. Much of the initial discussion about the album had to do with its platinum sales until the reaction to the Challenger sample began to circulate.

"XO" is about a failing relationship and taking the time to appreciate what one has in the moment because life changes.