One of the first things that I wanted to do with my little Yaesu FT-3D was to receive and bounce packets through the ISS. As soon as I had built my 1/4wave ground plane antenna, I tried a few times with no success. Little did I know that it was not me, the ISS had a faulty connection on a prior space walk upgrade. Recently they did another space walk and repaired the system back to it's original configuration and I was able to connect.
First impressions are not about the radio but how big the space station is as it arcs across the sky. This thing is HUGE and it's not a pin point, it appears to be a big fuzzy dot cruising faster than airliners do, it's also bigger.