The company views ground-based rocket landings as better for expediting reuse, since drone ship landings require time to return to port.
The satellite is the first of two for Argentina's space agency, Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, and will work in conjunction with a constellation of Italian space agency satellites.
Minutes after launch, the rocket's second stage separated from the first-stage booster and continued rising spaceward. This marked the first time a Falcon 9 rocket had landed on the West Coast, and was SpaceX's 30th landing of a first stage overall.
Air Force officials have issued a warning that residents in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties could potentially hear one or more sonic booms due to the launch.
"Michael" Could be in Our Forecast by End of Week
The complex was upgraded to a tropical depression Sunday morning. "Isolated amounts of 12" of rain are possible in western Cuba. CDT issued its first advisory on the storm, which is getting better organized over the northwestern Caribbean Sea.
The SAOCOM 1 mission aims to study soil moisture using synthetic-aperture radar readings from two identical satellites in low Earth orbit, SAOCOM 1A and 1B.
The mission got underway at 7:21:28 p.m. PDT (GMT-7; 10:21 p.m. EDT), a bit less than an hour after sunset, when the booster's nine Merlin 1D engines ignited, throttled up to full thrust and quickly pushed the 229-foot-tall rocket away from Launch Complex 4-East.
Known as plume interaction, the phenomena has been known to produce extraordinary visual effects and the launch of SAOCOM 1A was certainly no exception.
As The Verge noted, SpaceX hasn't been making sea landings by choice.
It was SpaceX's 17th flight so far this year, the company's 44th successful launch in a row and the 63rd overall for the Falcon 9 family of rockets, including the February debut of its three-core Falcon Heavy rocket.