Henry F. Auter, Jr., a native Mississippian from Vicksburg, began his career with the space program in 1953 and was instrumental in testing and launching America's first satellite in 1958 and the first man into space in 1961. Auter also helped develop the early plans for the Stennis Space Center. He also directed the center's activation and testing of the giant Saturn V boosters during the Apollo lunar landing program.
The easy-going electrical engineer was named the installation's first deputy manager in 1963 when the facility was known as the Mississippi Test Operations. He served in that position until he retired in 1980. Auter also served for one year as "acting manager" when Jackson Balch retired in 1975. During his tenure as acting manager, he worked diligently to help hold the management and structure of center together during a tumultuous time of change.
Auter was cited for his efforts to help the Navy Oceanographic Program relocate to Mississippi from the Washington, D.C., area with a minimum of disturbance. All the while, he supported a strong NASA presence at the facility. Auter has said that he believed the diversification of the installation and the location of several federal and state agencies at the facility was the most significant occurrence he was involved in during his career.