The liftoff was at 10:43 EST from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and after a short orbital mission the capsule was recovered after a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, NASA said.
The successful launch, safe reentry and recovery is the first demonstration flight for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, which will provide cargo flights to the International Space Station, the space agency said.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a former astronaut, issued congratulations to SpaceX.
"While rocket launches from the Cape are considered a common occurrence, the historic significance of today's achievement by SpaceX should not be lost," he said.
"This is the first in a new generation of commercial launch systems that will help provide vital support to the International Space Station and may one day carry astronauts into orbit," he said.
"These new explorers are to spaceflight what Lindbergh was to commercial aviation," Bolden said.