Beyoncé's Challenger disaster audio clip in 'XO' criticized

Beyoncé attends a release party and screening for

Beyoncé attends a release party and screening for her self-titled album at the School of Visual Arts Theater in Manhattan. (Dec. 21, 2013) (Credit: Getty Images)

Despite criticism from an astronaut's widow and others, pop star Beyoncé is defending her use of audio from the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster to open her new song.

"We were disappointed to learn that an audio clip from the day we lost our heroic Challenger crew was used in the song 'XO,' " June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee, told ABC News Monday. "The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues and friends."

In a statement to ABC, Beyoncé explained but did not apologize for using the audio.

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

In the video of the song, from Beyoncé's newly released album, NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt is heard over a black screen and some flashing lights stating, "Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction," he continues over a close-up of Beyoncé standing against a lighted wall at Coney Island. Challenger is not mentioned by name.

The song, written and produced by Beyoncé, Ryan Tedder and Terius "The-Dream" Nash, concerns a troubled relationship.

"This choice of historic and solemn audio is inappropriate in the extreme," former NASA employee Keith Cowing, proprietor of website NASAWatch.com, told ABC.

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