Metal for space?

In the February 2001 edition of Playboy, along with lots of photographs of attractive young American women wearing hardly any
clothes or nothing at all, was an interesting article about US astronauts who will be doing construction work in space.
On page 148 in the bottom right hand corner it says this: "Because normal steel turns brittle in the -200F to -250F of space, the tools are all made of beryllium copper."
What's so special about beryllium copper? And if normal steel is so brittle in cold, what about high tensile steel? When we eventually build really BIG space environments in the region of several billion tons in weight, like O'Neill Cylindrical Colonies about 10 miles across. and 30 + miles long, we will have to use iron/steel for the structure.
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I'm no expert on metals but logic tells me it it is not brittle like steel at those temps and is hard like steel !!
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Christopher wrote:

IF we eventually build....... why will we, in that future scenario, have to use iron/steel for that structure? Lots of technology will be different by then.
You made an assumption there, didn't you?
>

There are a number of metallic systems which do not have a "ductile - brittle" transition below ordinary temperatures.
Copper is one of them, but ordinary copper is not as strong as "ordinary steels".
The addition of beryllium to copper results in precipitation hardening, much as adding copper to aluminum results in a precipitation hardenable aluminum alloy (typically the 2000 series).
One thing that is special about (beryllium)copper is that it doesn't make sparks as do some iron based alloys. There are other things special about the Be-Cu alloy, but they probably aren't relevant here.
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Iron is one of the most abundant metals in space.

Yes, but to date iron/steel is the most useful of metals for construction type purposes. In it is cheap to manufacture and work.

Thanks for the clarification/info.
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Lets see if this helps understand.
1. Beryllium Copper (.65% Be) has a Tensile strength of 100 ksi 2. is very low in electrical conductivity (used in high explosive gas places) 3. C17000 is Beryllium Copper has .2% Si, 1.6-1.79 Be and .20 Al. several numbers through the 17500 numbers... 4. the rupture strength increases on an exponential rate (getting higher) below 500 C ever increasing as the temp goes down.
I've used those tools in a paint house at GM. Several dozen large tanks of open tops of car paint.
Martin
Martin H. Eastburn @ home at Lions' Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net TSRA, Life; NRA LOH & Endowment Member, Golden Eagle, Patriot"s Medal. NRA Second Amendment Task Force Charter Founder IHMSA and NRA Metallic Silhouette maker & member. http://lufkinced.com /
Christopher wrote:

-
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wrote:

Too Bad they did not define "normal steel" like other aurthors they know little truth and care about truth even less.
I wonder how that auther addresses the brittle heat sheild tiles? Humm...You actually READ the Playboy articles?
Medium and high carbon heat treated steels do show what called a ductile to brittle transitional behavior (DBT) but this should be considered in design - added nickel and moly can decrease and even eliminate BDT - such and Stainless Steels (300 series).
For space constructions using nickel/iron alloys would be fine and VERY tough.
Ed Vojcak
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