Mechanical engineer Charles Bombardier’s hypersonic jet concept, the Paradoxal, doesn’t just push the envelope; it redefines it. Bombardier and his team of designers at Imaginative have drawn up a commercial aircraft that conceivably could travel at Mach 24 (nearly 16,000 mph or 25,749 kph) and leave Earth’s atmosphere.
Powered by reusable rockets and ramjet engines, the futuristic flyer would follow a suborbital, parabolic path and briefly enter space, according to Bombardier. Each wing is designed to inject counterflowing compressed air over its leading edge to mitigate heat buildup during reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. “I think the technology can be developed rapidly, in less than 50 years," says Bombardier. “The true questions become whether anyone is willing to invest capital in such a programme — and do we really need to go that fast?"