Petition Asks Beyonce to Donate 'XO' Profits After Challenger Controversy

The song sampled NASA commentary of the space shuttle accident that killed seven astronauts.

 Beyonce performs onstage at her "Mrs. Carter Show World Tour 2013," on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2013, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
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A petition is demanding Beyoncé donate 25 percent of the proceeds from her song "XO" to The Challenger Learning Center, after controversy surrounding the song's use of a sound clip from the 1986 Challenger space shuttle tragedy. The petition, posted on, has garnered more that 3,600 signatures as of press time, nearing its goal of 4,000 signatures.

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"XO," the lead single from Beyoncé's recently released album "Beyoncé," begins with a clip of NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt's commentary during the disaster, in which the space shuttle Challenger broke apart a little over a minute after its lift off, killing all seven astronauts onboard. "Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation… obviously a major malfunction," Nesbitt says in the clip, which has been sampled before in other songs.

The song's use of the clip drew the condemnation of those in the space community, including retried Retired NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson, June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger's Commander Dick Scobee, and NASA itself, which said in a statement:

"The Challenger accident is an important part of our history; a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized. NASA works everyday to honor the legacy of our fallen astronauts as we carry out our mission to reach for new heights and explore the universe."

Beyonce responded to the controversy with a statement of her own, saying that the song, which she wrote with Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and Terius "The-Dream" Nash, "was recorded with the sincerest intention to help heal those who have lost loved ones and to remind us that unexpected things happen." It added, "The songwriters included the audio in tribute to the unselfish work of the Challenger crew with hope that they will never be forgotten."

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Some have agreed with Beyonce, with Forrest Wickman at Slate arguing that the sample fits the song's message, while others say such logic doesn't justify its use.

As the petition states, "Beyonce, claiming no harm meant, has suggested that the inclusion of the clip was meant to honor the fallen astronauts. While this is ill concieved [sic] logic, it indicates that Beyonce is sensative [sic] to the grief of the deceased's families and regrets that her mistake has caused so much harm. It should follow, then, that Beyonce should welcome a way to fix her faux pas and make up to the families."

The Challenge Learning Center, which was founded by Mrs. Rodgers and other family members of the Challenger crew, includes 40 learning centers in the U.S., Canada, South Korea, and the United Kingdom that educate more than 400,000 middle-school aged student about science technology.

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