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Beyoncé sample of Challenger disaster prompts NASA response

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beyonce (arvzdix /
beyonce (arvzdix /

NASA has responded to Beyoncé's use of an audio clip from the Challenger disaster on her new album, which has had critics labeling the singer as insensitive. "The Challenger accident is an important part of our history; a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized," Lauren Worley, NASA's press secretary, says in a statement to the Associated Press. "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 works every day to honor the legacy of our fallen astronauts."

The controversy has risen around a six-second audio sample used to open "XO," a Beyoncé song released last month. The sample — which is presented out of context on the song — comes from NASA's first announcement following the space shuttle's explosion: "Flight controllers here are looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction." Over the past week, NASA employees and some family of those who died in the disaster have criticized its placement in a pop song. Though NASA doesn't explicitly condemn Beyoncé's use of the sample, it appears that the agency considers the song a trivialization of the tragic incident.

Beyoncé responded to the criticism earlier this week, explaining to ABC News that the sample is thematically relevant to the song and is in honor of the crew's work. "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," Beyoncé tells ABC News, saying that her heart goes out to the families of lost crew members. It's clear why the sample is a questionable choice nonetheless, even if it was used with good intentions.