A lot went right during a recent attempt to reach the International Space Station. The capsule it carried, which was designed and built for NASA by Boeing, was smoothly delivered past the edge of space. The capsule was supposed to stay in space for a week and dock to the ISS.
A lot went right during a recent attempt to reach the International Space Station. A lot went wrong too.
The rocket launched just before sunrise on a cool, late December day, cutting a streak of gold across the sky in Florida’s Cape Canaveral. The capsule it carried, which was designed and built for NASA by Boeing, was smoothly delivered past the edge of space. If the test had gone off without a hitch, the next time this spacecraft flew, it would have had astronauts inside. The capsule was supposed to stay in space for a week and dock to the ISS. But two days later, the capsule was back on Earth with its parachutes strewed across the New Mexico desert. It was healthy and in one piece, but its cargo was undelivered, and its mission cut short.
Now NASA says the mission could have gone even worse.
An investigation of the bungled mission has revealed more problems than officials and engineers alike expected to find. The flaws stem not from hardware, but from the flight software coded by Boeing engineers. The capsule, known as Starliner, turned out to be more dangerous than anyone realized.
“We don’t know how many software errors we have,” Doug Loverro, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, told reporters on Friday. “We don’t know if we have just two or we have many hundreds.”
The launch was an important test in NASA’s plan to launch its own astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttles stopped flying in 2011. While two American companies, Boeing and SpaceX, are developing new spacecraft, NASA astronauts have been hitching some very expensive rides alongside cosmonauts on Russia’s Soyuz system. Before these two companies can fly people, though, they must prove their chops during an uncrewed journey to the ISS. SpaceX flew a similar—and successful—mission last spring. (It suffered a significant setback a month later when its capsule exploded during testing on the ground, but it has since rebounded and a new one could lift off from Cape Canaveral—with astronauts—later this year.)
Timing is everything, especially in spaceflight, and that’s where Boeing’s Starliner first had trouble. Thanks to a software glitch, Starliner incorrectly set its internal clock hours before it launched, which meant that after it separated from the rocket and reached space, the capsule missed the moment it needed to fire some thrusters and push itself into the right orbit. In a cruel twist, mission control lost contact with Starliner just then because, it seems, of interference from radio noise on Earth, possibly from cellphone towers. By the time engineers could command Starliner again, the capsule, disoriented and idling, had used up too much fuel to finish its climb toward the ISS.
With no choice but to return Starliner home, Boeing engineers started combing through the software and found another issue. Before Starliner begins its final descent to Earth, it must shed a service module that helped nudge it toward the atmosphere. But the way the software sequence was set up, the thrusters on this module wouldn’t have fired correctly. A rocky separation could have destabilized Starliner, causing it to tumble. The two spacecraft could’ve even bumped into each other, in which case the impact could have damaged the heat shield. Starliner needs that shield to survive the fiery drop of reentry, with astronauts on board or not.
“It’s hard to say where the service module would have bumped, but nothing good can come from those two spacecraft bumping,” Jim Chilton, the senior vice president of Boeing’s space and launch division, told me.
Boeing engineers rewrote the software and sent the new version to Starliner barely three hours before the capsule touched down in New Mexico. If they hadn’t intervened, NASA says, Starliner could have been lost.
It is impossible to say what would have happened during this mission if people had been on board. Boeing officials have said that astronauts faced with a similar clock problem could have taken control of Starliner and guided it to the proper orbit. It’s less clear what they could have done to deal with the potential threat of a crash.
NASA has begun to investigate what’s going on inside Starliner’s team, and so far, the findings aren’t good. The space agency says it has uncovered failures at nearly every phase of Starliner’s development, from design and coding to testing and verification. Software defects in code as complex as this aren’t unexpected, NASA says, but there were “numerous instances” before flight when Boeing should have caught them. Chilton said the software patch for the reentry problem, for instance, required an easy fix. A little extra prelaunch attention could have avoided the issue altogether.
It is no doubt preferable to reckon with potentially dangerous errors after a test than after a tragedy. But the extent of the problems is confounding, and NASA seems well aware of it now. “Our NASA oversight was insufficient,” said Loverro. “That’s obvious, and we recognize that.”
NASA has always relied on contractors to provide hardware for its programs, from Apollo to the space shuttles, but the agency has never depended on them quite like this before. Boeing and SpaceX are in charge of designing nearly every bit of the new craft, from propulsion systems to the aesthetic look of the seats. Astronauts assigned to the SpaceX capsule don’t even train at the famous Johnson Space Center in Houston, working instead at SpaceX’s headquarters in California.
NASA is in charge of setting safety requirements and ultimately will decide whether and when the systems are astronaut ready. The arrangement worries George Abbey, the former director of Johnson Space Center, who joined NASA as an engineer in 1964 and went on to select and train astronauts during the shuttle program. “[Astronauts] were going to fly because they had the confidence in NASA leadership—that they would take care of all of the issues and problems. So when leadership told them they were ready to fly, they had that confidence,” Abbey told me. “With the lack of that oversight, I’m not sure that NASA can really assure them that they’re ready to fly.”
NASA officials say that it’s too early to state whether the agency will require one more uncrewed launch from Boeing before astronauts are allowed to fly in the company’s new capsule. NASA will now conduct a new review of Boeing’s workplace culture, based on interviews with personnel ranging from senior managers to technicians. This decision, Loverro said, was influenced in part by news reports about “other parts of Boeing”—a not-so-subtle allusion to Boeing’s high-profile software problems with the 737 Max plane that led to two crashes and the deaths of 346 people. Engineers at Boeing, it eventually came out, knew about problems with the plane’s safety months before the first accident. It was hard not to think about this when Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, told reporters, rather pointedly, that he has advised his senior NASA leaders in this program to “never, ever, ever be afraid of the truth.”We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. MARINA KOREN is a staff writer at The Atlantic.
Flooding in Eastern Oregon Strands Residents
Prolonged rains coupled with a recent snowstorm led to rapidly rising waters late last week around Pendleton, Ore., about 200 miles east of Portland. Evacuation orders were issued Friday morning, and authorities warned that “it could be weeks” before residents could get out.
PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — Residents began the long process Monday of cleaning up from devastating flooding that hit northeast Oregon as receding waters revealed the full extent of the damage. Mobile homes were moved from their foundations, there were impassable roads and thick layers of mud and debris everywhere.
Authorities opened one lane of travel in each direction Monday on Interstate 84, a major freeway connecting Oregon and Idaho, but restricted speeds to 45 mph (72 kmh) as crews worked to repair severe damage to the asphalt and roadway irrigation system. Flood warnings were lifted late Sunday.
Search and rescue teams transitioned Monday from searching the most rural communities in the foothills of the Blue Mountains for stranded residents to assessing the full extent of the damage. Crews worked to restore power and authorities urged those with wells to boil their drinking water.
Fifty-four people were evacuated by helicopter over the weekend from remote areas and a 62-year-old woman was found dead Sunday after being swept away by flood waters. Ten dogs, one cat and one rabbit were also rescued, authorities said Monday.
The city of Pendleton began signing up volunteers to help clean up the most devastated neighborhoods on Sunday. A mobile home park was the worst hit, with many units suffering significant damage. Many residents did not have insurance, the East Oregonian reported.
Patty Haid returned to her mobile home over the weekend to assess the damage after leaving Thursday night. She told the East Oregonian she waded in waist-deep water to safety while holding a suitcase over her head.
Her porch had washed away and she will likely need a new floor in her unit, she said, but her family fared better than another resident whose mobile home floated away and crashed into another one.
“It was so scary,” Haid told the newspaper.
A heavy snowstorm in the Blue Mountains, followed by two days of rain and warming temperatures, created the worst flooding in at least 30 years in the city of Pendleton and other smaller communities in the region about 200 miles (320 kilometers) northeast of Portland, Oregon. Walla Walla, Washington was also hit hard by flooding in the Pacific Northwest where Oregon, Washington and Idaho meet.
The Umatilla River crested at more than 19 feet (5.7 meters) on Thursday night — nearly four times the average height for that date — during the worst of the flooding and multiple rivers in the area set records for their water level.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency Friday for Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa counties, which meant the Oregon National Guard could respond.
No timeline has been set for the remaining lanes of I-84 to reopen.
Better get that paper bag ready. A Wizz Air plane, originally destined for London Luton from Warsaw, was reportedly diverted to Birmingham, where, as you can see by this scary footage, it got caught in the whipping winds of Storm Ciara: Passengers arrived safely but shaken. The Wizz Air flight wasn’t the only one having major issues trying to land.
Better get that paper bag ready.
A Wizz Air plane, originally destined for London Luton from Warsaw, was reportedly diverted to Birmingham, where, as you can see by this scary footage, it got caught in the whipping winds of Storm Ciara:
Passengers arrived safely but shaken.
The Wizz Air flight wasn’t the only one having major issues trying to land. Check out this aborted attempt at Heathrow on the same day:
Storm Ciara caused problems across Europe over the weekend, with tens of thousands of passengers grappling with canceled flights. London Heathrow airport, the busiest in Europe, was hit hardest, according to the Independent, with some 300 arrivals and departures grounded.
Death toll rises as storm moves across Europe
A storm has battered Europe with hurricane-force winds and heavy rains, killing at least seven people and causing severe travel disruption as it moved eastwards across the continent.
After striking the UK and Ireland on Sunday, the storm moved on, leaving a trail of damage including power cuts for tens of thousands of homes across Europe.
A woman and her 15-year-old daughter died in Poland after the storm ripped off the roof of a ski rental equipment building in the mountain resort of Bukowina Tatrzanska and sent it hurtling on to people standing near a ski lift, police said. Three people also injured in the incident.
In Sweden, one man drowned after the boat he and another person were sailing in on the southern lake of Fegen capsized. The victim was washed ashore and later died. The other person is still missing, according to the Aftonbladet daily.
Two men, one in the north of Slovenia and another in southern England, died after their cars were hit by falling trees, and in Germany, a driver died after crashing his truck into a trailer parked by workers clearing storm debris off a road in the southern state of Hesse.
Police in the Czech Republic said the storm was probably to blame for a car accident that killed the man driving and injured a woman passenger. Investigators think a tree fell on the car, which skidded off the road and and overturned.
The number of Czech households without electricity reached 290,000, according to power company CEZ.
The storm had largely passed through France by midday, although meteorologists warned that the Mediterranean island of Corsica could later see winds as high as 200kph (124mph). Up to 130,000 homes stretching from Brittany in western France through Normandy and the northern regions were without power on Monday morning.
In Germany, utility companies were scrambling to restore power to 50,000 homes in northern Bavaria, where a top wind of over 160kph (100mph) was recorded. The storm resulted in a record amount of electricity being fed into the German grid from wind turbines, equivalent to almost 44 nuclear power plants.
Train travel across Europe’s biggest economy was also severely disrupted, leaving many commuters unable to get to work. Deutsche Bahn said it was slowly resuming long-distance rail services in the north of the country but warned travellers to expect further disruption. Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights from German airports.
The storm also led to school closures in several cities and regions, including North Rhine-Westphalia state, where several people were injured by falling branches and toppling trees. Parts of a construction crane fell on to the roof of Frankfurt Cathedral overnight.
Even though there were no reported fatalities in Belgium, the storm had an emotional impact in the central town of Zottegem, where a scenic 150-year-old poplar tree was snapped at its roots, before falling on to a country road.
The tree had been granted protected status by the Flemish regional government and locals now plan to have a special remembrance service on Friday.
Nearly 400,000 Customers Impacted by Sunday’s Wind Storm; PG&E Crews Have Restored Most Customers Who Lost Power
PG&E Did Not Turn Off Power for Safety as PSPS Thresholds Were Not Met
Gusts as High as 90 mph in Mountains; 50-plus mph in Flatlands
More than 800 Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) personnel, including electric and vegetation management crews in the field, worked to prepare for and respond to outages and damage from Sunday’s strong wind event.
From the time the winds started blowing early Sunday morning through Monday afternoon, PG&E had restored nearly 400,000 customers who had their power knocked out due to winds and flying debris. At 2 p.m. today, about 12,000 customers remained without power, mostly in the East Bay and along the Central Coast. Crews will continue to work to make the needed repairs to restore all customers today.
The National Weather Service had issued wind advisories, and PG&E’s own meteorologists had forecast an extended period of high winds going into the weekend. PG&E issued a news release on Friday to help prepare customers.
Winds Across PG&E’s Weather Network
On Sunday, notable higher-terrain wind gusts were recorded at various weather stations: Pine Flat Road in Sonoma County (90 mph), Mt. St. Helena in Napa County (87 mph), Mt. Umunhum in Santa Cruz County (72 mph) and Grizzly Peak in Alameda County (62 mph). Notable low-elevation wind gusts were recorded at Oakland International Airport (53 mph), Fairfield (52 mph), Hayward (49 mph), Livermore (48 mph), Stockton (48 mph), Concord (47 mph) and Vacaville (46 mph). The National Weather Service reported a 125-mph gust at Alpine Meadows in Tahoe.
The high winds caused damage throughout PG&E’s service area, much of it from falling trees and flying branches and debris. PG&E activated 17 local emergency centers and moved crews to areas hit hardest by the strong winds to facilitate restoration. As crews were called to locations where outages had occurred, they found damage including hundreds of downed spans of power lines and dozens of broken poles, crossarms and transformers.
A PSPS Was Not Called
Although the wind speeds were similar to what was experienced last October, the conditions did not meet the thresholds for calling a Public Safety Power Shutoff as fuel and soil moisture values remain high enough to mitigate wildfire danger.
No single factor drives a Public Safety Power Shutoff as each situation is unique. PG&E carefully reviews a combination of many criteria when determining if power should be turned off for safety. These factors generally include, but are not limited to:
- A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service
- Low humidity levels, generally 20 percent and below
- Forecasted sustained winds generally above 25 mph and wind gusts in excess of approximately 45 mph, depending on location and site-specific conditions such as temperature, terrain and local climate
- Condition of dry fuel on the ground and live vegetation (moisture content)
- On-the-ground, real-time observations from PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center and observations from PG&E field crews
Preparation is the Key to Safety
As always, PG&E encourages customers to have a plan, prepare for power outages and above all else, stay safe. Customers can monitor local winds via www.pge.com/weather. Customers can get updates on outages in their neighborhood through a variety of channels.
- Contact our outage information line at 1-800-743-5002
- Access our Electric Outage Map online at pge.com
- Customers can also log-in to their account through pge.com and sign up to receive proactive outage alerts through email, text or phone
Storm Safety Tips
- Drive safely: When you’re behind the wheel, look out for fallen limbs and other debris in the roadways.
- Never touch downed wires: If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it—and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 911 and by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
- Use flashlights, not candles: During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, and not candles, due to the risk of fire. If you must use candles, please keep them away from drapes, lampshades, animals and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
- Have a backup phone: If you have a telephone system that requires electricity to work, such as a cordless phone or answering machine, plan to have a standard telephone or cellular phone ready as a backup.
- Have fresh drinking water, ice: Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator/freezer during an outage to prevent foods from spoiling. Blue Ice from your picnic cooler also works well in the freezer.
- Use generators safely: Customers with standby electric generators should make sure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician in a well-ventilated area. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to customers, as well as crews working on power lines. If using portable generators, be sure they are in a well-ventilated area.
- Turn off appliances: If you experience an outage, unplug or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
- Safely clean up: After the storm has passed, be sure to safely clean up. Never touch downed wires and always call 811 or visit 811express.com at least two full business days before digging to have all underground utilities safely marked.
Other tips can be found at pge.com/beprepared
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/index.page.
Following Oregon flooding, authorities find a body
Waters covering roads in flood-hit northeastern Oregon have started to recede, allowing residents to return and assess the damage from weather that appears to have left one person dead. A woman who had been missing, Janet Tobkin Conley, 62, lived in one of the areas hit by floods, and her body was found Sunday by searchers and neighbors, authorities said. She appeared to have been swept away by rushing water, they said.
PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — Waters covering roads in flood-hit northeastern Oregon were starting to recede, allowing residents to return and assess the damage from weather that appears to have left one person dead.
A woman who had been missing, Janet Tobkin Conley, 62, lived in one of the areas hit by floods and her body was found Sunday by searchers and neighbors, authorities said. She appeared to have been swept away by rushing water, they said.
An approximately 10-mile (16-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 84 south of Hermiston, Oregon, remained closed Sunday due to flood damage and authorities say it could be a week before it reopens. A detour is in place.
Oregon National Guard troops aboard two helicopters airlifted 21 people to safety on Saturday. The helicopter missions continued Sunday and volunteers also assisted flood victims.
Residents in the foothills of the Blue Mountains in northeast Oregon had to be airlifted by from their flooded homes and even were taken out in a front-end loader as rain and melting snow caused rivers to crest their banks. Some neighborhoods in Pendleton, a town of 16,000, were hit, damaging mobile homes.
Seventeen evacuees spent Friday night at the Red Cross shelter in the Pendleton Convention Center, and numerous people dropped off blankets, pillows and other comfort items, said Nadine McCrindle, the Red Cross executive director for central and eastern Oregon. Another eight people stayed at a shelter in Walla Walla, Washington.
“They’ll be able to go to their homes and see what is left, if anything, and see what the damage is,” McCrindle said.
The forecast was for mostly sunny skies and no rain Sunday and Monday.
Many roads in Umatilla County, where Pendleton is the county seat, were still closed because of high water or damage, the county sheriff’s office said.
The Umatilla River crested just before 10 p.m. Thursday at more than 19 feet (5.79 meters), nearly four times the average height for that date. Rivers all around the region overran their banks.
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday night that it is searching for a woman who went missing near Bar M Ranch, which has had flooding in recent days.
Janet Tobkin Conley, 62, was last seen about 7 p.m. Thursday in the Bar M Ranch area, the sheriff’s office said. Neighbors discovered she was missing Friday morning.
Conley is an experienced hiker and camper and is familiar with the area, the sheriff’s office said.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in Umatilla, Wallowa and Union counties late Friday, allowing mobilization of the National Guard.
In Washington state, there was widespread flooding in the Walla Walla Valley. Waters were receding but authorities were assessing damage in communities such as Dayton, Waitsburg and Milton-Freewater.
Another curveball could impact New Hampshire’s 2020 primary Tuesday: the weather.
Snow, rain and chilly temperatures are forecast in the state this week as it holds its first-in-the-nation primary, which is the second contest of the year in Democrats’ race to choose who will take on President Donald Trump in November.
Of course, the New England state is used to wintry conditions, particularly in the middle of February. But that doesn’t mean precipitation and temperature drops won’t impact voters.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of neighboring Vermont has led in recent polls in New Hampshire, with former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, polling high as well. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former Vice President Joe Biden are polling a bit behind those frontrunners.
What’s the primary day forecast in New Hampshire?
“Early in the day, rain and snow showers will be less widespread, and mainly confined to the southwestern part of the state,” meteorologist Matt Benz said, according to AccuWeather. “If you want to ensure you wait to vote in dry conditions, the earlier you go the better.”
NECN reports that conditions “will impact voters in New Hampshire mainly after lunchtime.”
The New Hampshire Union-Leader in Manchester, the state’s largest city, reports that “the forecast for Tuesday … [calls] for scattered rain and snow showers with temperatures in the high 30s in southern communities and reaching 40 on the Seacoast, Clair said. Central and northern New Hampshire were also expected to see scattered snow and rain showers, and temperatures were expected to be in the mid-30s.”
“It’s not going to be brutally cold by any means, but it’ll be chilly,” said meteorologist Brett Rossio, noting that the region has had a relatively warm and mild winter so far, according to AccuWeather.
How does weather impact voting and turnout?
AccuWeather cited 2016 research conducted by the weather site that showed “difficult weather conditions, including winter weather, can affect voter turnout with swing voters especially.”
AccuWeather reported that “research shows that women are less likely to vote when conditions are colder, and voters between the ages of 18-24 are more likely to vote when the weather is warm and sunny, which could affect Sanders’ numbers, as he is the popular candidate among young voters.”
Previous research has shown that weather can influence voter turnout and preferences by party — but it’s not clear that would have bearing on Tuesday’s contest, which is a competition among those of the same political affiliation.
“It is clear from our results that Republicans benefit from precipitation on election day,” researchers write in “The Republicans Should Pray for Rain,” a 2007 study published in The Journal of Politics. “In addition to its direct effect on voter turnout, we have shown that bad weather may affect electoral outcomes by significantly decreasing Democratic presidential vote share, to the benefit of Republicans.”
The authors wrote in their abstract that they found that “compared to normal conditions, rain significantly reduces voter participation by a rate of just less than 1% per inch, while an inch of snowfall decreases turnout by almost .5%. Poor weather is also shown to benefit the Republican party’s vote share.”
The study notes that the idea weather influences turnout is widely accepted in the media and among political operatives. The researchers quote Democratic political consultant James Carville as saying on CNN ahead of the 2004 primary in New Hampshire that “heavy snow [expected in the state] could affect the turnout, particularly among the elderly.”
So what can politicians and political parties do if precipitation is anticipated?
“To offset these Republican gains, Democrats must take action to counteract the increased cost of voting among their supporters,” the authors wrote. “Otherwise, Democrats may wish to ‘pray for dry weather.’”
Can weather influence voters’ preferences?
A more recent study — published in 2018 in the journal American Politics Research — suggests weather might influence which candidates voters choose, and not just turnout.
“Our study suggests that weather conditions may affect people’s decisions on not only whether to vote but also who they vote for,” co-author Yusaku Horiuchi, a professor of government at Dartmouth College, said in a statement released by the school
Researchers said their study revealed that “at least 1 percent of voting age adults in the U.S. who would have voted for a Democrat had the weather been good, voted instead for a Republican on rainy election days.”
The researchers said it could be because voters are more risk averse when the weather is bad, writing that “earlier studies have identified a correlation between ideological and political orientations in which conservatives or Republicans tend to be more averse to risk than liberals or Democrats.”
USA Today reported that Election Day rainfall apparently “heightens pessimism and increases fears of risk,” quoting the 2018 study authors as writing: “Those who feel in an upbeat mood may lean toward the riskier candidate, while those who feel depressed and anxious lean toward the safer candidate.”
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Parts of Mecklenburg County are under a flood advisory until late Monday night and evening commute traffic could be complicated by wet roads.
Monday evening kicks off a week of rain expected in Charlotte, with the heaviest showers arriving overnight and into Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Between 1 and 1.5 inches of rain is expected Monday.
Neighborhoods downstream from Mountain Island Dam are particularly vulnerable as river levels rise, according to a hazardous weather outlook posted by NWS on Monday. People in that area, west central Mecklenburg County and in southeastern Gaston County are urged to “take immediate actions to protect property adjacent to the lake and the Catawba River.”
Light scattered showers will follow between Tuesday and Thursday night, National Weather Service meteorologist Rodney Hinson said. The precipitation will likely be half or a third of what is expected Monday.
There will also be a slight chance of thunder between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. early Tuesday morning.
The weather is expected to be worse for the mountainous areas to the west of Asheville, he said.
By Friday, the rain is expected to clear out.
After nearly three years on her own journey – one that found her traveling across state lines – a female gray wolf was found dead.
The wolf, known as OR-54, was only about 3 or 4 years old when she was found dead last week in Shasta County, California, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
OR-54 was first found in Oregon in 2017 when Fish and Wildlife Service officials in Oregon tagged her with a radio collar to “monitor population growth and wolf behavior” for the endangered species.
She was a member of the “Rogue Pack,” the first pack of wolves found in Western Oregon and Northern California since they were mostly eradicated in the area in the last century.
Related Video: Wild California Wolf Pups Make Their Video Debut
She was tracked traversing through California, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife – making the occasional trip back to Oregon and briefly crossing into Nevada territory. OR-54, according to the fish and wildlife agency, traveled farther south into California than any other gray wolf since wolves were found in the state in 2011.
The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that OR-54 traveled more than 8,712 miles upon entering California.
She probably was scouting for mates, officials said. According to the Washington-based organization Western Wildlife Outreach, wolves start their mating process at 2 or 3 years old and keep their mates for life.
Her father, OR-7, famously entered Northern California in search of a mate, fathering the “Rogue Pack.” His presence helped spark legislation in California to designate the gray wolf an endangered species.
The gray wolf is protected by California and Oregon’s state endangered species laws and the federal Endangered Species Act.
Gray wolves, however, have proven to be a source of frustration for the livestock industry. In 2017, a relative of the Rogue Pack family known as OR-33 died from gunshot wounds after it was blamed for having killed and injured goats and sheep.
A proposal last year would have removed the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act, but it has not been enacted.
“OR-54 was a beacon of hope who showed that wolves can return and flourish here,” said Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity in a statement. “Her death is devastating, no matter the cause.”
Contributing: Danielle Jester, Siskiyou Daily News; Zach Urness, Salem Statesman Journal.Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gray wolf: Endangered species dead after traveling 8,712 miles to mate