The Russian press is slowly picking up the story about the failed flight test of the Bulava missile that took place on November 10th, 2007. I thought it would be useful to collect in one place what we know about the test program so far. Here is the table:
|1||12/11/03||Success||Pop-up test of a mockup of the missile.|
|3||09/27/05||Success(?)||First flight test. Launch from a surfaced submarine. Reports about failure of the third stage.|
|4||12/21/05||Success||First launch from a submerged submarine.|
|5||09/07/06||Failure||Launch from a submerged submarine. The first stage failed shortly after launch.|
|6||10/25/06||Failure||Launch from a submerged submarine. Failure of the first stage.|
|7||12/24/06||Failure||From a surfaced submarine. Problems with the third stage.|
|8||06/28/07||Success||Unconfirmed reports about problems with one of the warheads.|
|9||11/10/07||Failure||The first stage failed shortly after launch.|
There is some uncertainty about results of two tests. The one on 27 September 2005 was reported to be successful at the time, but in December 2006 Ivan Safronov reported that the third stage of the missile failed in that test. Also, there were some reports about problems in the July 28th, 2007, but it is not clear whether these were credible. By that time the information about tests was almost completely disappeared from the public domain.
The secrecy surrounding the tests is getting increasingly tighter. However, it is clear that it is counterproductive and will only increase suspicions that the program has something to hide. The test record, of course, does not look very good, but there is no reason why the designers could not overcome the problems.
UPDATE 11/22/07: It appears that the test took place on November 10th, 2007 after all. I corrected the dates in the message and in the table.