That's a "bump shield" used for filming the IMAX movie A Beautiful Planet.
According to IMAX, their desire to film from aboard the Cupola forced
them to design an "exclusive bump shield made of a space-rated clear
material" that was "equipped with sliding doors" to allow the cameras
to have the clearest possible views. The shields were flown into ...
For shuttle, the crew flew the last few minutes of the landing manually. Manual flying was a contingency mode for most parts of the entry. Some kind of outside view is required for that. Given video technology in the 70s when shuttle was designed, they went with windows.
The aft and overhead windows were important for ...
These are part of the cupola window temperature control system. Each window has window heaters and temperature sensing modules (these orange tabs) to make sure the windows don't get too hot or too cold. For example, if the window gets too hot, the astronauts would be instructed to close the cupola's shutters. Because of the traces I assume that each orange ...
Video technology of the MIR space station was obviously still not good enough during the 1997 MIR-Progress collision. The radar had been shut down because of technical problems, but the docking attempt was ordered to go ahead anyway, by a crew member remotely operating the approaching Progress supply spacecraft via a video monitor
Just afterwards, in the ...
ESA-built Cupola uses "Fused silica and borosilicate glass" for all its windows including biggest 80 cm one (reference is http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/International_Space_Station/Cupola)
In http://www.esa.int/esapub/bulletin/bulletin137/bul137h_deloo.pdf on page 7 (labelled 66) there is text about previous 50 cm window on ISS
The windows of the Cupola are not made of a single pane.
When not shuttered, the Cupola windows present a four layered front to
potential impactors: a debris pane, two pressure panes, and an innner
scratch pane. The windows are designed to be completely replaceable in
the event of severe damage.
There are electrical window heaters and there ...
It's on one of the Russian modules of the ISS, that's why it's a ginormous Russian porthole. Since the porthole is facing Earth, I'd say yes, it's also facing the same general direction as the cupola, but not necessarily the same exact direction.
@Steve the first cover is part of the pressure containment vessel of the station, note the mating seals around ...
The RSC Energia has recently published a study on the effect of high-velocity impacts of meteoroids and space debris on glass windows of the ISS in their "Kosmicheskaya Tekhnika i Tekhnologia" quarterly journal.
At page 55 they have a nice three view scheme of Zvezda windows locations with the sizes, directions and angles specified:
Figure 1. ...
There are windows on Zvezda from which you can see zenith, but these aren't facing exactly zenith. It doesn't seem as though any other segment on the ISS have zenith windows.
From this website, at the bottom there are attachments that show the various cross-sections for Zvezda. It's a little confusing, however, since this image has the +x and +z labelled as ...
According to "Final Report of the International Space Station Independent Safety" (2007)
Russian windows have less meteoroid protection (less layers). Also there is no internal scratch to protect it from internal vandals, unlike the NASA/ESA design
5.11 Service Module Windows. Observations
There are many windows on the ISS. Destiny (The US Lab, between Node 1 and Node 2) has a 20 inch window facing Earthwards.
The Russian segment has several, and they have covers to protect them when not in use.
Zvezda is the key module for windows:
Zvezda has 14 windows— There are two 9-inch-diameter (230 mm) windows, one in each of the two crew sleep ...
Here's a possibly-final spec sheet, dimensioned in millimeters:
I found another one on this page, but it appears to be a quite early design, and while it offers more dimensional callouts, they don't seem to be internally consistent with the diagram.
I would like to add one additional effect. Keeping the astronauts sane. Really, ever sit in a small tight room for a week with no windows and no confirmation of anything beyond. In prison they use that as a punishment. Just the ability to look out and confirm that you "can" go there, and you don't "have to" live the rest of your life in this little tin can, ...
I cannot find a definitive answer to this one. Obviously, they open the windows sometimes to take pictures, but from what I can tell (from most pages that I have read) they actually keep the windows closed most of the time. This is because of the effect of the variable sunlight on their circadian rhythm. For example, this was Terry Virts's explanation (...
The plan for replacement of an entire window is a bit surprising. It would not be done by closing the cupola hatch and depressurizing the cupola - although such a hatch does exist. (in the picture 1 = hatch track, 2 = the hatch).
(image - NASA, annotations mine)
Instead, an external pressure cover would be fitted to the outside of the window by astronauts ...
Windows are kept small because they are heavy
Windows need to be thick enough to survive micrometeoroid impacts and the stresses of spaceflight, and to provide radiation protection. They also need cushioning and seals. This makes a window heavier than the equivalent area of sheet metal bulkhead.
The Shuttle needed just the delta-v to get into low Earth ...
In addition to the other answer: the ISS rotates to keep its nadir side (which the cupola is part of) pointed at Earth. This means the cupola is shielded from direct sunlight by the rest of the ISS for most of the daytime half of its orbit.
The vehicles had different requirements.
The CM splashed down in the ocean, the LM landed vertically on the moon, the shuttle landed on a runway.
Requirements drive design.
See also Do windows in space stations, the space shuttle, other spacecraft have practical usage?
On the ISS, the Cupola is used to observe operations:
The International Space Station Cupola was first conceived in 1987 by Space Station Man-Systems Architectural Control Manager Gary Kitmacher as a workstation for operating the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm, maneuvering vehicles outside the station, and observing and supporting spacewalks. He likened ...
Windows have been primarily required for
Docking operations (Gemini, Apollo CM and LM, STS, ISS)
Landings (Apollo LM, STS)
Remote manipulation, e.g. Canadarm (STS, ISS)
Visual inspection (Apollo, STS, ISS)
We're still not at a point where every last thing is automated or instrumented, and some manual intervention and inspection is still necessary. Not to ...
Many of the shuttle missions late in the program performed a flyaround of the ISS after undocking. (STS trivia fact: This maneuver was traditionally flown by the pilot (the docking was traditionally flown by the commander)).
Here is a partial list obtained by googling "which shuttle missions performed flyarounds of the ISS":
No. There is no need for windows, from a technical perspective. Humans like windows, or at least display screens so they can see what's going on, avoid going stir-crazy from living in a capsule for months etc..
In reality, windows will be as small as possible, as they are on any high stress vehicle (aircraft or spaceships) because they are a likely failure ...
Generally, they used the optical alignment sight to align the spacecraft when docking. https://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/coas.htm
The film may be referring to the landing point designator, or LPD found in the commanders window.
Edit: Fixed my acronyms! I apologize for my incorrectness.
The space shuttles, had a viewing window much similar in looks […] like the cockpit of a plane.
The Space Shuttles were planes. The others weren't. Hence it makes sense to have airplane-like windows, and it makes sense that the others don't need them.
That appears to be the "cupola window", it's in the structural ring around the docking hatch and looks straight out the front of the Soyuz. You can see the probe from the docking mechanism hanging down from the hatch behind the crewmember. Here'a front view from the Soyuz Crew Operations Manual, the cupola window is #6.
You can see it at the left of this ...
According to Scott Kelly's book Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery, the astronauts love to look out the windows and he's seen "thousands" of sunrises in space. And the pictures you include show astronauts experiencing sunlight. So it's clear that exposure to sunlight is more frequent than just "occasional".
But most of the windows face the ...
Other people have already pointed out practical reasons for being able to see outside; for controlling robot arms, landing shuttles manually or general failover. Cameras are not only more fragile, but much more complex and expensive than a simple window (camera + monitor + camera controls + cable management through the outer wall of the vehicle + power usage,...
Very late to the party, but here's a supplemental answer supporting the argument that Service Module (SM) windows 12 and 13 can be used to view the zenith.
Images generated by DOUG, an official NASA JSC visualization software used in mission planning and crew training. Available to the general public for free!
This shows the location of SM window 12. I ...