The idea for the space shuttles came from the idea of a paper airplane. With the paper airplane being able to be re-used continuously.
The first flight of a space shuttle was by Columbia on April 12, 1981. The shuttles totaled a number of 135 flights with 6 shuttles. The flights were originally designed to be replaces in 1990 but due to setbacks with the international space station they were kept in use for twenty additional years.
There were two disasters involving the shuttles Challenger and Columbia. Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch due to a booster failing.
The last space shuttle was retired in 2011.