Trident Missile Payload Section
Trident I missile payload section in the collection of the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum. This is the top portion of a 34-foot Trident I (C4) training missile. In service from 1979 to 2005, Trident I ballistic missiles were three-stage, solid-fuel, inertially-guided weapons that can hold up to eight nuclear warheads called multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles (MIRVs). This Trident I payload section is outfitted with four simulated MIRVs. Since 1960, American ballistic missile submarines have patrolled the world’s oceans with nuclear missiles to deter nuclear attacks. Trident I missiles could travel 4,000 nautical miles to reach a target, compared to the 2,500-nautical-mile reach of its predecessor, the Poseidon C3 missile. Two engineering innovations made this significant increase possible: the addition of a third stage rocket motor (the central copper-colored cylinder) and a metal aerospike that extended from the missile’s nose after launch to reduce drag. As a training unit, this particular missile at the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum never contained nuclear or explosive material. It has been fully cleared for public display.