So a couple of minutes ago, the Falcon 9 of CRS-11 just landed and I noticed that the "smoke" color was a little different. It is more "red" compared to landings from other missions.

CRS-11 (weird color):

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NROL-76:enter image description here

Is it because of the new paint on LZ-1? What can be the cause of this?


2 Answers 2


My best guess is that it's just simply dust. Florida right now is in somewhat of a drought at the moment and this could cause dry dust to settle on the landing pad. After the Static-fire test of CRS-11 there was a brush fire that had started (demonstrating the dryness in Florida). As for the specific color of the dust, it looks as if the top picture has somewhat of a filter on it which may be contributing to this certain color of the dust. Different times of day may also have affects on the color of it. As launches in the morning (at least where I live) such as NROL-76 and CRS-10 both had lighter colors of smoke/dust, than the evening launch of CRS-11. So unless SpaceX is testing some experimental Nitrogen Tetroxide engines (*joke) It should just be benign dust.

  • $\begingroup$ Good point about time but for the filter part, I checked other footage of the landing and they were all red-ish. $\endgroup$
    – Dat Ha
    Jun 4, 2017 at 10:47
  • $\begingroup$ Not sure why you're referring to California. The static-fire test and the launch both happened in Florida, on pad 39A. $\endgroup$
    – user19742
    Jun 4, 2017 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Deimophobia not sure why I put California either. Just fixed. $\endgroup$ Jun 4, 2017 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ Could it be this stuff getting kicked up, used preventatively? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phos-Chek $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 4, 2017 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh that's a possibility, the Phos-chek on the wiki page looks more reddish but they could have different formulations with different colors $\endgroup$ Jun 4, 2017 at 18:08

In this launch, LZ-1 was covered with new radio-reflective paint to assist more precise landing. I think the paint could be the source of this red smoke.

Source: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/871228411494014976


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