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This paper presents a satellite-based communication system dedicated to disaster recovery. The proposed solution relies on the underlay transmission of low-power emergency signals in the frequency band of a primary transparent satellite telecommunication system. Wideband spreading is used so as to guarantee that the primary system performance is not affected by the inter-system interference. The emergency system capacity is evaluated under realistic assumptions regarding the primary satellite mission. It is shown that depending on the emergency terminal characteristics, various emergency communication services can be envisaged, from simple alert missions to voice communications. As it does not require any specific space segment development nor the full-time reservation of expensive radio resources, the described solution is attractive in terms of deployment cost. Provided an extension of the regulatory framework for exceptional security-oriented missions, it might satisfactorily match a governmental need for reliable, easy-to-deploy emergency communication means.