Started by entrepreneur Rudolph Ryan, the Ryan Cartel was a company formed to transport huge asteroidal icebergs through hyperspace to supply colonies with cheaper water supplies. Nearly bankrupt after the development of advanced water purification technology during the Star League era, the assets of the Ryan Ice Cartel were purchased by the Free Worlds League based Curtiss Hydroponics in 2688 and continue to survive through to the Word of Blake Jihad.
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.
Star League era
The Ryan Ice Cartel would continue to operate as the primary supplier vital water through to the formation of the Star League. During the Good Years in the wake of the Reunification War, in 2622 League engineers at the Caph Institute of Technology developed the Jamerson-Ulikov Water Purification Procedure, half the size a third the cost of any previous water-purification system. Significantly cheaper to operate this J-U Water Purifer than to import water via Iceships, making it economically feasible to settle Inner Sphere worlds previously ignored during the Exodus as well providing many already settled worlds with an unexpected economic boom.    
As fewer and fewer worlds relied on its service, the Ryan Cartel was nearly driven bankrupt. By 2668 the remaining assets of the Cartel’s Iceship Division were purchased by Curtiss Hydroponics, the League based manufacturer of the TriFill War Purification System. Conducted more out of pride than sound business practice, the Ryan Cartel would continue to lose millions of Star League Dollars a year before better management and cost-cutting measures stabilised its finances.  
Succession Wars era
As the Star League teetered on the brink of collapse in the wake of the Amaris Coup, Curtiss began production of five new vessels for the Ryan Iceship Division, the first of their kind built in almost two centuries. The fortuitous acquisition of the Ryan Cartel helped the company to weather the maelstrom of the Succession Wars as the slide into LosTech again made construction of Iceships both increasingly vital and highly profitable. Curtiss would continue to operate the Ryan Iceship Division until at least 3067, with at least 51 of the fragile vessels still in operation.  
Loving Woman, Captain Henry Devillers
- The Star League, pp. 54-55 "Economic and Scientific Advances"
- MechWarrior 1st Edition, p. 6 "A History of Human Space, 2001-3025 - The Good Years (2601-2750)"
- MechWarrior 2nd Edition, pp. 109-11 "Historical Overview - The Good Years (2601-2750)"
- Historical: Reunification Wars, pp. 165-166 "Aftermath - Good Years - The Second Invasion"
- House Marik (The Free Worlds League), pp. 128-129 "Socioeconomics - Corporate Profiles - Curtiss Hydrosystems"
- Handbook: House Marik, p. 137 "Economy - Civil Engineering and Agriculture - Curtis Hydroponics"
- DropShips and JumpShips, p. 12
- House Kurita (The Draconis Combine), pp. 16-17
- The Periphery, pp. 12-14