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​An artist's concept of the next-generation GPS III global position system satellite in orbit above the Earth. Air Force graphic.

​Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman will compete to build the new batch of next-generation GPS III satellites. On May 5, the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center awarded the three companies phase-one production readiness feasibility contracts for the 11th GPS III space vehicle, according to a release. The base $5 million firm-fixed-price contracts call for demonstrations of the contractors’ navigation payload capabilities. The next-generation satellites’ payloads will include a nuclear detonation detector, search and rescue system, a laser retro-reflector array, S-band frequency capability, and military protection system, according to the release. The contract covers a 26-month period, with two additional six-month, $500,000 options. The initial, next-generation GPS III satellites are already in production. United Launch Alliance is scheduled to launch the first GPS III satellite in May 2017, according to SMC’s public affairs office. ​SpaceX will launch the second in May 2018.