The Soyuz-L was essentially a two-stage derivative of the Molniya-M, itself derived from the original Soyuz. It featured the reinforced first stage and boosters used to provide support for the Molniya's third stage, allowing it to carry a larger and more massive payload. A larger payload fairing was also fitted, to accommodate the LK spacecraft. The Soyuz-L made its maiden flight in 1970, and was retired in 1971, having made three launches. All three launches were successful. The later Soyuz-U used a similar configuration to the Soyuz-L.