In 1986, I remember sitting in my elementary school’s assembly program and witnessing the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.  Upon listening to Beyonce’s “XO”, I immediately recognized the sample in the beginning and was somewhat shocked to hear it being used.

“Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation,” says NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt. “Obviously a major malfunction.”

NASA issued a statement Tuesday after Beyonce received backlash from the Challenger families and others for using the words “major malfunction”, but in regards 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 trivialized,” said the statement from Lauren B. Worley, NASA’s press secretary. “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.”

NASA’s response actually came after Beyonce explained her use of the snippet. “My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster,” Beyonce’s statement 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.”

But families of those killed in the disaster didn’t exactly see it that way.  June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee, told ABC in a statement that she was disappointed and described the use of the sample as “emotionally difficult.”


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