If there's two things i love, it's space-flight, and late 19th century technology, and i hope to implement as much of the latter into as much of the former in my current setting. And one thing that has me particularly interested are Thorsten Nordenfelt's Steam submarines.
Old, beautiful, cast-iron...and perfect for a sci-fi steam-punk setting.
It made me wonder...how well would they hold up in space?
Or more specifically:
How could it be possible for a spaceship, made from cast-iron and other materials typically used in construction in 19th century Europe, to travel distances similar to those of earth and mars during their transfer-window (38.5 Million Miles), while retaining oxygen inside to keep a crew of humans alive?
Sadly, I'm not sure what propulsion-method could be optimal to allow for the ship to survive as long as possible. Though because i'm working with steam-punk, i'm willing to stretch the scientific advancement in some areas. But either way, there's gonna be some hefty waste-heat to deal with. (also they will be purely traveling from orbit to orbit. Launch and re-entry are out of the question for now.)
And additionally, as the title implied:
How could it be possible for a space station to be made from materials typical of the same period, while supporting a population of humans inside?
The types of stations i'm thinking about specifically are both modular stations such as the ISS and MIR, but also fancier options, such as Bernal Spheres.
The question doesn't concern the life-support systems for now, and is more about structural integrity and retaining pressure.
I'll clarify more things if needed.