The new version of Falcon 9 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base around 9 a.m.
This was the first time the private rocket maker flew the next-generation version that boasts upgraded engines designed to improve performance and deliver heavier payloads.
The rocket carried a satellite dubbed Cassiope, which has instruments to study space storms in the upper atmosphere and their potential effects on GPS navigation and radio communications.
Sunday's launch is considered a demonstration flight to test the capabilities of the improved rocket.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.