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With the side windows in space shuttle cockpit, as seen in this photograph,

enter image description here

could the commander and pilot see the ground at all before launch or during the first 10-15 seconds of a shuttle ascent?

From this angle it would seem a lot could be seen to the sides of the shuttle,enter image description here screen grab from video.

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This is a frame from a video I shot in the Shuttle Mission Simulator back in the 90s. I was sitting in the commander's seat. The shoebox with the red stripes is supposed to be the launch tower, you can see the ground at the bottom.

https://imgur.com/a/Rh61hOE

The simulator window field of view was supposed to be accurate. But although I didn't have a helmet on, I would say yes.

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