Rudolph Ryan started the Ryan Iceship Cartel on January 10, 2177. The Iceship Cartel patented and implemented technologies, allowing crews to cut massive blocks of ice from the asteroid belts of uninhabitable systems and transport them to inhabited systems using a formation of jump capable ships. The rate of extra-terrestrial colonization was greatly accelerated by the increased availability and quality of water.
Within a few short years, the Ryan Cartel became the single most profitable enterprise within the Terran Alliance. The iceships of the cartel stimulated the colonization of many worlds previously believed only marginally habitable. The number of inhabited colonies increased from over 200 in 2195 to over 600 by the time of the Fourth Alliance Grand Survey conducted in 2235.
Despite the improvements in infrastructure possible through the Ryan Cartel, Rudolph Ryan and his successor David Ryan, openly backed the Terran Liberal Party and covertly supported blockade runners in their attempts to "illegally" colonize worlds further than 120 light years away from Terra.
The efforts of the Ryan Cartel led directly to the colonization of hundreds of worlds, the Outer Reaches Rebellion, the eventual collapse of the Terran Alliance, and the formation of the modern Inner Sphere.
- DropShips & JumpShips (ComStar Intelligence Summary), p. 10 (p. 12 PDF), "To Reach Tau Ceti"
- House Kurita (The Draconis Combine), p. 13.