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Orion Launch Scrubbed, Plagiarism, and Repticon: Houston Matters for Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014

Space City watched closely this morning as, following several delays due in part to high winds and a sticky rocket valve, NASA scrubbed today’s launch of the Orion capsule aboard an unmanned Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA hopes to launch Orion tomorrow. Once launched, Orion will orbit the Earth from a height of 3,600 miles, then drop back into the atmosphere […]

Space City watched closely this morning as, following several delays due in part to high winds and a sticky rocket valve, NASA scrubbed today’s launch of the Orion capsule aboard an unmanned Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA hopes to launch Orion tomorrow. Once launched, Orion will orbit the Earth from a height of 3,600 miles, then drop back into the atmosphere and land in the Pacific ocean hundreds of miles off the California coast.

Orion represents NASA’s latest effort in the development of deep space travel. The unmanned flight is designed to test, among other things, how well the spacecraft handles radiation surrounding the Earth in what’s known as the Van Allen Belt. No manned mission has crossed that belt since the Apollo missions to the moon. Radiation is one of many challenges astronauts would face in a mission to Mars, towards asteroids, or other deep space destinations.

On this edition of Houston Matters, we hear from the Houston Chronicle’s Sci Guy Eric Berger about Orion, NASA’s efforts to move towards deep space travel, and what it all may mean for Houston, and Johnson Space Center, in particular.

Also this hour: CNN host, author and columnist Fareed Zakaria was accused recently of plagiarizing articles for several publications, including the Washington Post, which says it’s adding editor’s notes to four of his columns online. The Post is the fifth news organization to conclude work published by Zakaria appears to have attribution problems. But he’s not the only journalist who has been accused of plagiarism. We discuss the prevalence of plagiarism in the media, why some journalists commit this cardinal sin — intentionally or accidentally — and whether it can or should end a journalist’s career. We also take a look at plagiarism in the classroom and the tools teachers use to catch it, as we talk with University of Houston Communications Professor Garth Jowett.

Then: Last month, Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services opened a Single Parent Houston campus in Meyerland. It’s designed to provide housing, employment assistance, counseling and other services for single mothers facing a crisis. We learn more about it, and about other services available for single moms in Greater Houston.

Plus: A preview of Repticon Houston, a reptile and exotic animal convention taking place this weekend.

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