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Beyoncé used audio samples from the Challenger disaster: Genius or insensitive?

Singer Beyoncé performs on her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour 2013 at Staples Center on Monday, July 1, 2013, in Los Angeles.

Frank Micelotta/AP

Was Beyoncé insensitive for sampling audio clips from the Challenger space shuttle disaster in a song, or was she simply trying to help people heal through the power of music?

You can probably guess which story she's sticking with.

BBC News reports that the pop diva has justified her use of audio footage from the 1986 Challenger space shuttle tragedy on the song titled XO from her recently released album.

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Seven astronauts died on Jan. 28, 1986, when Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds after launching in Florida.

The XO track includes actual audio footage taken from the day of the tragedy.

The song begins with scratchy audio of former NASA public affairs office Steve Nesbitt saying, "Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously, a major malfunction…"

Not surprisingly, the song has stirred up bad memories for those who lost loved ones that day – which, according to Beyoncé, was the point she was trying to make.

"My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster," reads the statement released by the singer on Monday. "XO was recorded with the sincerest intention to help those who have lost loved ones."

And the use of actual NASA audio? According to Beyoncé, "The songwriters [Ryan Tedder and Terius Nash] included the audio in tribute to the unselfish work of the Challenger crew with hope that they will never be forgotten."

Beyonce's attempt to creatively justify XO comes in the wake of negative backlash to the song.

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June Scobee Rogers, the widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee, registered her dismay over the use of audio in a statement released to CNN.

"We were disappointed to learn that an audio clip from the day we lost our heroic Challenger crew was used in the song XO," said Scobee. "The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues and friends."

There was also a carefully worded reaction to XO from NASA itself: "The Challenger accident is an important part of our history; a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized," said NASA spokesman Allard Beutel.

And perhaps the most straightforward response to XO came from retired NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson, who called Beyoncé's decision to sample the Challenger disaster audio as "simply insensitive, at the very least."

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