When STS122 had just been launched, I went out to see if I could spot it and the ISS. The ISS arrived right on time and was *very* bright and easy to see (I missed the Shuttle, though). I had also brought my scanner radio receiver with me, and just before the ISS went into the Earth’s shadow , I heard a carrier wave for a few seconds , followed by [chorosho] (Russian for “good”) and a few more words in Russian, since they were communicating with a ground station in Russia.
In the first few orbits after launch of the space shuttle(s) and the last few orbits before the re-entry (landing) the shuttle uses the frequency 259.700 MHz (AM) for clear voice communications.
A few weeks later, when the STS-123 was launched, I joined a group listening for the Shuttle “Endeavour”. but since the high power (10 Watts) transmitter of the spacecraft was out, they were only transmitting with the low power (0.25 watts) transmitter. with my simple antenna and a long cable in to the receiver the signal was lost here, but a few other people around in Europe did hear them.
Since then I have had a preamplifier mounted at the antenna , so the loss in the cable has been compensated.
In the last few orbits before re-entry I listened for Endavour again – and even with their low power transmitter it was audible here. Signals were weak and noisy, but a few sentences were clearly heard here. Next time I will have to do some recordings.