Beyoncé has been labelled "insensitive" by NASA for using audio from a space shuttle catastrophe on one of her new tracks.
"XO" from her recent surprise fifth album, Beyoncé, opens with a six-second clip from the 1986 Challenger disaster. All seven astronauts on board the shuttle were killed when it exploded just 73 seconds after lift-off from the Kennedy Space Center on 28 January.
Steve Nesbitt, NASA’s public affairs officer at the time of the accident, is heard on the track saying the harrowing words: "Flight controllers here are looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction."
Representatives of the US space agency have called the decision to feature the clip “inappropriate in the extreme” and pushed for the sample to be removed from the song, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“The choice is little different than taking Walter Cronkite’s words to viewers announcing the death of President Kennedy or 911 calls from the World Trade Center attack and using them for shock value in a pop tune,” said Keith Cowing, who used to work for NASA.
Beyoncé released a statement vowing that "XO", a song about a volatile relationship, was “recorded with the sincerest intention to help heal those who have lost loved ones and to remind us that unexpected things happen”.
"My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster," it reads."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 June Scobee Rogers, the widow of Challenger Commander Dick Scobee, has dismissed Beyoncés explanation. “The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues and friends,” she told ABC News. “We have always chosen to focus not on how our loved ones were lost, but rather on how they lived and how their legacy lives on today.”
Beyoncé was born in Houston, the home of the NASA astronaut training camp, and recorded a special greeting for the Atlantis shuttle crew in 2011. "Good morning Atlantis, this is Beyoncé. You inspire all of us to dare to live our dreams, to know that we're smart enough and strong enough to achieve them," she said.
The "Drunk In Love" singer's latest album appeared unannounced exclusively on iTunes earlier this month and went on to become the fastest-selling release in the online music store’s history, shifting 828,773 copies in just three days.
A video posted online by Beyoncé recently revealed that she had recorded 80 songs for her album and shot 17 music videos.