The rocket was successfully launched at 12:47 a.m. and headed toward the South Pole.
Its upper stage deployed the research satellites minutes after reaching orbit. The satellites for Iridium Communications' next-generation fleet were released in a process completed a little more than an hour after liftoff.
The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment-Follow On mission, called GRACE-FO for short, will track movement of water across Earth.
"GRACE was really a revolutionary mission for us understanding the water cycle and how the climate behaves and the trends which are taking place over the last 10 or 15 years," Frank Webb, GRACE-FO project scientist, told a pre-launch press conference.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.