April 12 is Yuri's night, celebratingh the anniversary of Gagarin's 1961 flight. Exactly 20 years later April 12, 1981 was Space Shuttle Columbia's first flight. This was no design, but an accident caused by combinations of flight delays. The Shuttle did make Space flight more routine than it was for Gagarin, but never achieved the hope of airline-like access.
Many errors were made in the shuttle programme. Abandoning the Apollo/Saturn hardware was a huge mistake. It would have benefitted the US to develop a smaller spaceplane first, like the X-20 Dyna-Soar. A spaceplane came in handy during the movie MAROONED. ISS is limited to a crew of three because a spaceplane escape vehicle was cancelled for budget reasons.
The big delta wings are not necessary. Originally Shuttle was designed with stubby wings, like the X-15. When the US Government Accounting Office concluded that Shuttle was only economical if it replaced every other booster, NASA responded by cancelling every other booster. This forced the Air Force to adopt Shuttle, for which they demanded a larger payload diameter and cross-range capability. Supposedly the heavy wings would allow Shuttle to land at Air Force bases, a capability that was never used. The wings add weight and drag, but do provide a big target for foam strikes.
Today I've been working on a technology that will make human spaceflight safer, cheaper and far more comfortable. I hope to be able to write about it sometime.