NASA began designing the Space Shuttle to become the first cargo ship in space with the capability of carrying people and payloads. After two postponed attempts, Columbia, the first shuttle, blasted off from Cape Canaveral, FL on November 12, 1981. The Space Shuttle was designed to launch vertically and carry 4-7 astronauts along with payloads up to 50,000 lbs. The Space Shuttle program finished with its last mission, by Atlantis, in July 2011, with the program formally ending on August 31, 2011.
Now a part of the Smithsonian Institute, the Space Shuttle Discovery is on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. [http://airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/topics/shuttle.cfm]