The submerged launch of the Bulava ICBM took place on December 23 from the Dmitry Donskoi strategic nuclear-powered submarine in the White Sea, off Russia's northwest coast, targeting the Kura firing ground in Kamchatka in Russia's Far East.
The missile left the tube, but went off course and self-destructed due to a malfunction following the first stage separation.
"The cause of the latest failure during the launch of the Bulava missile was purely technical. One of the subcontractors supplied faulty ejection cartridges which were used in the separation of the missile's stages," the source said.
Despite the fifth failure in 10 trials, Russia's Defense Ministry is planning to complete a series of at least five Bulava tests and put the ICBM into service by the end of 2009.
The Bulava (SS-NX-30) ICBM carries up to 10 nuclear warheads and has a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage ballistic missile is designed for deployment on Borey-class Project 955 nuclear-powered submarines.
Sea trials of Yury Dolgoruky, Russia's first Borey-class strategic nuclear submarine, are due to start in the spring, when navigation begins in the White Sea.
Two other Borey-class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyard and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011. Russia is planning to build a total of eight submarines of this class by 2015.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.