Business / Ex-brewery could get new lease of life as satellite operations centre

The former Valhalla Brewery building. © Google 2020

THE FORMER Valhalla Brewery premises in Unst could be transformed into a launch control hub for Shetland Space Centre.

Planning permission has now been sought to turn the building at Saxa Vord into a technical operations centre for satellite launches.

Planning applications have been submitted for the whole space centre project, marking a significant milestone.


One other application which is currently public on Shetland Islands Council’s planning website is for a new road at Northdale.

The former brewery building – located opposite the Shetland Reel distillery – was originally built as part of the RAF facility at Saxa Vord.

The brewery has now closed, however, leaving the building empty.

Plans submitted to the council for alternations to the building show that the launch control centre could be divided into two “distinct areas”.

The building will include an “extensive amount of specialist equipment to enable the launch sequence to be undertaken remotely and for the tracking of satellites”, planning documents say.


It would operate with a “permanent skeletal staff structure outwith launch periods” and only be at full capacity on the lead up to launch days.

It is expected that travelling staff will be accommodated with the existing Saxa Vord Resort.

To cater for some staff who may live on the Shetland mainland, the space centre team will run a bus on a daily basis during the launch cycle period.

Valhalla Brewery founder Sonny Priest sold the business in 2017 after launching the business in the late 1990s.

It was taken on by Viking Mead Ltd, but the company went into liquidation in 2019.