COF or APM has had as long and torturous history as the Space Station prozect itself. At one time the ESA wanted their module to be able to undock and fly free of the space station to improve the microgravity environment to aid microgravity experiments, but NASA officials could not accept the idea of a large module of the station with its own propulsion and power systems coming and going from time to time. For a time, the ESA planned for a seperate free flyer module, and a permanently 'attached pressurized module' connected to the space station. After a time and cuts, only the APM was left of that plan. This module also followed the NASA modules which shrank from shuttle payload limitations, and the limitations of the move to a 51.6 degree inclination orbit. Further changes came as the APM became a derrivitave of the Italian produced MPLM module.
Images from NASA, ESA, NASDA, CSA, RSA
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