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Five Stars in Space: Hap Arnold's Rank Insignia Orbit the Earth

General of the Air Force Hap Arnold’s five-star insignia that orbited the earth in 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo)

General of the Air Force Hap Arnold’s five-star insignia that orbited the earth in 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Inscription on the back of the Plexiglas container on display. Museum staff custom-built this container to keep Arnold’s insignia well-protected during Endeavour’s final flight. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Inscription on the back of the Plexiglas container on display. Museum staff custom-built this container to keep Arnold’s insignia well-protected during Endeavour’s final flight. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Gen. Henry H. Arnold. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Gen. Henry H. Arnold. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Early Years -- Lieutenant Henry H. Arnold in Wright B Airplane, College Park, Maryland, 1911.

The Wright brothers taught Hap Arnold to fly. Arnold is shown here in early flying gear. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The crew of STS-134, Endeavour’s final mission. Pictured clockwise: NASA astronauts Mark Kelly (Capt., U.S. Navy, bottom center), commander; Gregory H. Johnson (Col., USAF, Ret.), pilot; Michael Fincke (Col., USAF), Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and the European Space Agency's Roberto Vittori, all mission specialists. (NASA image)

The crew of STS-134, Endeavour’s final mission. Pictured clockwise: NASA astronauts Mark Kelly (Capt., U.S. Navy, bottom center), commander; Gregory H. Johnson (Col., USAF, Ret.), pilot; Michael Fincke (Col., USAF), Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and the European Space Agency's Roberto Vittori, all mission specialists. (NASA image)

Endeavour lifts off on its 25th and final mission on May 16, 2011. (NASA image)

Endeavour lifts off on its 25th and final mission on May 16, 2011. (NASA image)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Astronaut Gregory H. Johnson (right) presents Museum Director Lt. Gen. (Ret.) John L. "Jack" Hudson (left) with a set of Gen. Hap Arnold's 5-star insignia, which was carried aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour as it made its final voyage into space. During Family Day on Aug. 20, 2011, Johnson discussed his mission as pilot on Endeavour's last flight and returned the insignia to the museum. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jermont Chen)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Astronaut Gregory H. Johnson (right) presents Museum Director Lt. Gen. (Ret.) John L. "Jack" Hudson (left) with a set of Gen. Hap Arnold's 5-star insignia, which was carried aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour as it made its final voyage into space. During Family Day on Aug. 20, 2011, Johnson discussed his mission as pilot on Endeavour's last flight and returned the insignia to the museum. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jermont Chen)

These 5-star general's insignia belonged to Henry "Hap" Arnold, and they flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2011. Flying Arnold's insignia in space symbolized the U.S. Air Force's drive to expand the limits of technology. In 1945 Gen. Arnold anticipated that spaceflight would eventually become a reality -- but perhaps he never dreamed that something of his own would one day orbit the earth.

Arnold was a key founder of the Air Force. He led the USAF to embrace science to meet future challenges, and Air Force worldwide leadership in aerospace technology is Arnold's proud legacy.

Hap Arnold (1886-1950) was the USAF's only 5-star general, and he served for 42 years. The Wright brothers taught him to fly, and he later commanded the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II. Gen. Arnold's efforts laid the foundation for modern USAF research and development and other important functions.

Space Shuttle Endeavour, carrying Arnold's insignia, flew its final mission from May 16-June 1, 2011. Shuttle Pilot Col. Greg Johnson (USAF, Ret.) carried the insignia into space for the Air Force, and returned them to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Aug. 20, 2011, during a special ceremony.

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Related Fact Sheets
Gen. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold
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Lectures
Dr. Jeff Underwood: "Hap Arnold: Air Force Visionary" (00:58:05)
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