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Project ASCENSION is an ongoing research and construction project with the intent of constructing a new vessel for Earth's resident Aash'n population. Involving several hundred thousand workers on direct construction work alone, the project additionally employs an estimated 3.5 million people primarily in the Maghreb and Europe in research and development in a vast number of companies, contractors and administrative roles. The centrepiece of ASCENSION is the construction of a large 'ark' to transport the Aash'n to their new home. Much of the infrastructure for this is located in northern Africa and Guyana. Due to the scheme's grandiose nature, work on the vessel itself has not even begun; work continues on the massive Gantry, used as an orbital shipyard.
Despite being a uniting factor for both human and Aash'n, and the merit of the technological advances unlocked through intense research and development over thirty years has proved massively beneficial to global civilisation, it is growing controversial considering the increasing number of Aash'n 'settlers' who wish to reside permanently on Earth. Additionally, the successes of 'terraforming' the Sahara desert to provide crops has led some to speculate that it would be far easier and beneficial for the future of both species to perform similar projects on other planets in the Solar System, avoiding the exorbitant costs of a 'one-use only' starship. However, the progress on Project ASCENSION, plus the massive (and to some cynics and critics, self-sustaining) bureaucracy and investment in it, mean that it is extremely unlikely to be cancelled.