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At week's end NASA's immediate job was clearly delineated: to complete Discovery's mission and bring it safely back to earth. Aboard the spacecraft, the astronauts attended to a few glitches, including a nagging problem in the craft's cooling system and a balky antenna on a communications instrument, which they managed to retract. They worked on science experiments, played tapes of classical and pop music and shot pictures of Pacific thunderstorms, of a lava flow in Ethiopia and of coastal erosion wreaked by Hurricane Gilbert in Yucatan.
On Sunday the astronauts were expected to conduct an in-flight televised news conference, announce plans for a memorial to the Challenger astronauts and complete their science experiments. Then, if all went well, they were to stow their gear and make other preparations for an early Monday-afternoon landing at California's Edwards Air Force Base. Discovery's dramatic mission will be over. But an even more pressing mission -- returning America to space with a meaningful and long-range program -- is just beginning.