The first stage engines burned for about two minutes and 24 seconds to propel the vehicle out of the dense lower atmosphere.
Earlier in the day, Musk had warned that landing Falcon 9 might be tricky that time around, in part because of weather conditions, which were described as borderline, The Verge notes. But no matter, the first stage booster hit the mark on Just Read the Instructions all the same.
This has never been done before, for the record, so SpaceX has essentially made history - and is making history, still.
This was the second launch in SpaceX's campaign to put 75 Iridium NEXT spacecraft into a constellation that's created to provide global high-speed satellite data transmission as well as aircraft tracking and surveillance.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off at 4:25 p.m. EDT (1:25 p.m. local Pacific time) Sunday from the coastal base, carrying 10 more satellites for Iridium Communications, which is replacing its entire constellation with next-generation satellites.
During prior missions these grid fins, manufactured from aluminum with added thermal protection, have caught fire due to atmospheric heating. "Single piece cast & cut titanium".
The Iridium NEXT program also will bring an end to so-called "Iridium flares", which space enthusiasts have observed for years.
Despite blustery winds and high seas, the California rocket builder also was able to recover the booster's first stage with a pinpoint landing on an off-shore droneship, SpaceX's 13th successful landing in a row.
The first set of Iridium satellites successfully arrived in space thanks to a different Falcon rocket that blasted off in January from Vandenberg.
The booster will be returned to shore, fixed up and prepared for another flight. All 10 satellites of SpaceX separated as planned that concluded the one hour and 12 minutes after its liftoff.