The Rocket Lab YouTube video ELaNa 19 Launch - 12/16/2018 contained a short video which was preceded by the following explanation after about 08:00:

Today’s mission is significant for Rocket Lab, NASA, and the small satellite industry as a whole. It’s the first time NASA cubesats will enjoy a dedicated ride to orbit, thanks to NASA’s Venture Class Launch Services Initiative, known as VCLS.

This October 2015 NASA press release NASA Awards Venture Class Launch Services Contracts for CubeSat Satellites discussed some goals and benefits of the program as well.

But how does this actually work? For example in the case of the current launch, did NASA provide some funding to Rocket Lab in the 2016-2016 timeframe to help them get to the point where they can provide the launch, which was paid for separately, or is this launch in someway fulfillment of the contract and funds were payed more recently, or a combination of both, or something else entirely?

Big ideas required big rockets:

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Big ideas, bigger dreams, in a smaller package; Venture Class.

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