The booster, meanwhile, relit its engines to maneuver itself for the return trip to SpaceX's landing zone, not far from the launch pad. "We're all very excited".
The rocket boosted an Argentine environmental satellite into orbit.
SpaceX has previously landed first stage rockets on land after Florida launches but had not done so on the West Coast.
SpaceX has a goal of using the boosters up to ten times with little maintenance, and 100 with refurbishment, as well as being able to relaunch boosters 24 hours after landing.
The Falcon 9 Block 5 lifted off at 10:21 p.m.
It will be SpaceX's first time trying to land one of its reusable rockets on the West Coast.
Washington Post publishes blank column after the paper's Saudi journalist goes missing
He said Khashoggi had left the building not long after he entered. "As journalists, we are anxious about the fate of Jamal". It said the consulate was working with Turkish authorities "to uncover the circumstances" of his disappearance.
From the ground, Twitter users posted incredible shots of the Falcon 9 coming back to Earth.
SpaceX calls its California touchdown site Landing Zone 4, presumably because it's part of Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 4 (SLC-4).
The launch of the satellite, SAOCOM 1A, is being conducted for Argentina's space agency.
Viewers took to social media to speculate on the rocket, which was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The mission will also help planners and emergency-management officials keep tabs on wildfires, floods and other disasters.
Argentina's National Commission on Space Activities, or CONAE, will operate the two SAOCOM satellites in cooperation with the Italian Space Agency's COSMO-SkyMed radar satellites.
Known as plume interaction, the phenomena has been known to produce extraordinary visual effects and the launch of SAOCOM 1A was certainly no exception. "Flying both constellations along the same orbit supports a rapid response by providing SAR information in emergency situations".