The US space shuttle was the world's first reusable manned spacecraft. The orbiter mounted onto an external tank and rocket boosters reached speeds of up to 18,000mph after lift-off.
Tragedies such as the 1986 Challenger and 2003 Columbia disasters hurt the programme.
In July 2011 NASA flew the last shuttle mission. For more about this amazing spacecraft, see the special BBC News space shuttle coverage.
Photo: The shuttle Endeavour lifts off in 2007 (NASA)
Look back on the world's first reusable spacecraft.
BBC Panorama investigates the Challenger shuttle disaster.
What went wrong with the space shuttle Challenger? BBC Panorama investigates the causes of the disaster, which killed seven astronauts.
BBC News reports on the shuttle tragedy in 1986.
BBC News reports on the shuttle tragedy in 1986. At first there were hopes that the crew had survived; however, it was confirmed later all seven astronauts had perished.
Tomorrow's World covers the first space shuttle launch in 1981.
Tomorrow's World covers the launch of the first space shuttle, Columbia, on 12 April 1981. Kieran Prendiville reports live from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
Tomorrow's World explains the space shuttle's launch stages.
Tomorrow's World presenter Michael Rodd explains the launch stages and mission of the first US space shuttle, Columbia, at the time of its first mission in 1981.
BBC News reports on the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster.
BBC News reports on the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster. Seven astronauts lost their lives when the shuttle broke up on re-entry. The BBC's Matt Frei reports.