Launch provider Rocket Lab is establishing a subsidiary to handle its sensitive U.S. government business, like launching spysats and experimental military spacecraft. Rocket Lab National Security LLC will handle most of the Defense Department stuff going forward to save the rest of the company a bit of grief.

But wow, you want to talk about picky? Try getting a contract to launch a top-secret satellite that costs $200 million! There are all kinds of hoops you have to jump through. But when they want to launch right away, price is no object — as if you’ve just got rockets lying around!

Of course, in Rocket Lab’s case, that might well be true, but the company clearly decided that it would be smart to contain the “bureaucratic requirements” and other red tape, clearances, and so on to a specialized subsidiary that can work more closely with its national security clients and partners. It’s likely there was already a considerable firewall within the company, since commercial activity is in many ways fundamentally different from government contracts. Now it’s truly its own business unit (or perhaps that is not the correct term of art, but you know what I mean).

Less high-touch missions for civilian agencies like NASA and NOAA would likely use the “vanilla” Rocket Lab’s services, and indeed defense projects that don’t come with too many strings attached can probably save a buck or two by going that way as well. But compared with launch costs ten years ago, it’s all a rounding error.

Rocket Lab carves off defense-focused subsidiary for national security customers by Devin Coldewey originally published on TechCrunch