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United Arab Emirates spacecraft blasts off from Japan

Hope is expected to reach Mars in February 2021, the year the UAE celebrates 50 years since its formation.

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Men watch the launch of the Amal space probe (Jon Gambrell/AP)

Men watch the launch of the Amal space probe (Jon Gambrell/AP)

Men watch the launch of the Amal space probe (Jon Gambrell/AP)

A United Arab Emirates spacecraft has begun its journey to Mars with a blast off in Japan, in what is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission.

The launch of the spacecraft named Amal, or Hope, marks the start of the seven-month journey to the red planet.

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Omran Sharaf, project director for the Hope space probe, at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai (Jon Gambrell/AP)

Omran Sharaf, project director for the Hope space probe, at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai (Jon Gambrell/AP)

AP/PA Images

Omran Sharaf, project director for the Hope space probe, at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai (Jon Gambrell/AP)

The launch, initially planned for July 15, had been delayed for five days due to bad weather.

The probe will study the upper atmosphere and monitor climate change while circling Mars for at least two years.

The craft is expected to reach Mars in February 2021, the year the UAE celebrates 50 years since its formation.

UAE space program officials said several hours after take-off the probe was functioning as planned as it headed towards Mars.

PA