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.
Un-Bey-Lievable: Ridiculous things Beyonce has done
Un-Bey-Lievable: Ridiculous things Beyonce has done
1/15 Beyoncé admits lipsynching at Barack Obama's inauguration
The 'Crazy In Love' singer performed US national anthem 'The Star Spangled Banner' at the president's Inauguration Day in January 2013, but lipsynched to a pre-recorded track. She blamed the decision on her being a 'perfectionist' and wanting Obama's day to be memorable. 'Due to no proper sound check I did not feel comfortable taking a risk,' she told a press conference.
2/15 Beyoncé attacked by PETA for Super Bowl outfit
In February 2013, Beyoncé was publically attacked by animal rights organisation PETA for wearing a Rubin Singer-designed leotard made of 'python, iguana and cow' for her Super Bowl Half Time performance with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child.
3/15 Beyoncé makes people cringe in sickly sweet documentary
It's the sickly-sweet Bey-and-Z love-in that was her Life is But a Dream documentary. Released in February 2013, just after Valentine's Day, the autobiographical TV film was directed and produced by the singer herself. Her marriage to Jay Z, her miscarriage, the birth of Blue Ivy (not literally)...it's all here.
4/15 Beyoncé breaks US trade embargo and visits Cuba
The pop star sparked a small furore in April 2013 when she holidayed in Communist island Cuba with Jay Z to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. A long-standing US trade embargo against Cuba prevents most Americans from traveling their without a government license. It is unknown whether they had obtained a license or not.
5/15 Feminist icon Beyoncé refuses to say she is a feminist
Leading women's magazine Vogue asked the pop star whether she considers herself a feminist in April 2013. Her non-committal response? 'That word can be very extreme but I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality but why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? I'm happily married. I love my husband.' Because you can't be a feminist and love your partner too Bey?
6/15 'Independent Woman' Beyoncé names her world tour after her husband
She is hailed as a feminist icon around the world for tracks such as 'Independent Women', 'Survivor' and 'Run The World (Girls)'. But Beyoncé chose to name her 2013/14 world tour after her husband, Shawn 'Jay Z' Carter instead. She values her marriage - great - but what message does this send to young women who look up to her as a symbol of self-empowerment?
7/15 Beyoncé bans photographers from world tour
After the press published 'unflattering' snaps of the singer during her Super Bowl peformance in February, her publicist was brought in to put an end to such disrespectful behaviour. To prevent a repeat, no photo credentials were granted for her Mrs Carter Show World Tour and instead, Beyoncé's own photographer Frank Micelotta was hired to capture her best angles.
8/15 Beyoncé banned from Pyramids by 'Egypt's Indiana Jones'
Controversial archaeologist Dr Zahi Hawass was upset when Beyoncé arrived late to his tour of the Pyramids, booked when visiting Egypt. Hawass banished the 'rude' star from the ancient site, claiming she never apologised for being impolite. 'I said Beyoncé was stupid and I left,' he said.
9/15 Beyoncé goes vegan with rapper husband Jay Z
In December 2013, the high profile couple decided to take part in the 22 Days Challenge, which aims to change people’s dietary and exercise habits by encouraging them to omit all animal-based products from their diets.
10/15 Beyoncé dines in a vegan restaurant decked out in fox fur
Newly vegan Beyoncé no doubt ruffled a few feathers when she wore a fox fur coat to a meat-free organic restaurant. The singer was spotted in the £2,915 Christopher Kane parka with a real fur collar as she accompanied husband Jay Z to a vegan meal at Native Foods in Los Angeles before Christmas 2013.
11/15 Beyoncé guerilla releases album
Comprising14 original tracks (including a collaboration with her daughter Blue Ivy, husband Jay Z and Frank Ocean) and 17 videos, Beyoncé randomly released her self-titled fifth studio album on iTunes as a mid-December Christmas surprise in 2013.
12/15 Beyoncé shops for her new album in Walmart
Not only did Beyoncé play the politician’s game at the US store (yes, she did stop to kiss a baby’s forehead on the way round), but she played Santa as well, showering shoppers with 750 gift cards worth $50 each. Presumably so they could spend them on her new album. Or a bottle of her perfume. Or something.
13/15 Beyoncé is 2013's most searched for celebrity on the internet
Beyoncé Knowles beat the headline-grabbing competition to be named the world’s highest ranking human being of 2013 according to Bing, leaving the rest of celebdom trailing in her warbling wake. Controversial pop star Miley Cyrus only manged number 9 on E! Online's list.
14/15 Beyoncé samples space shuttle disaster in pop song
The singer's decision to use a six-second audio clip from the 1986 Challenger catastrophe in which seven astronauts lost their lives was deemed 'inappropriate in the extreme' by NASA representatives at the end of 2013. Words breaking news of a 'major malfunction' open her song 'XO' from fifth album Beyoncé.
15/15 Beyoncé poses in the middle of Leonardo da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' replica
Closing 2013 in distinctly dubious style, the singer posted a series of pictures on her Instagram account showing her plonked in front of the Italian artist's masterpiece. She is pictured posing in a bright green skirt and pink bustier in the middle of the painting, right in front of Jesus.
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.