Doctor David Ziegler is the brother of Toby Ziegler. Ziegler works as an astronaut.
Ziegler had post-graduate degrees in biology and physiology.
He was the payload specialist on the shuttle Columbia, his fourth shuttle flight. On the flight, he took four Japanese newts, and tested how a lack of gravity affected their inner ears, as they were similar to human ears. He nicknamed them "Astro-newts".
The shuttle did not land when expected as the starboard payload door wouldn't close. When performing a manual winch op, disconnecting the motor from the door, the two Orbital Maneuvering Systems. A Reaction Control System, forty different engines, were sent up to also help.
When Sam Seaborn told his brother, Toby, the news about David, it caused Toby to worry. Toby admitted that he was embarrassed that he had forgotten his brother was in space, as his mission orders were switched a few times. President Bartlet tried to comfort Toby, though Toby noted that no space travel problem was minor, and he worried for his brother's safety. The shuttle landed safely and Toby was relieved when informed.
Years later, he killed himself after being diagnosed with cancer. His suicide affected Toby terribly, though it was suffered mostly in private. C.J. Cregg, who was White House Chief of Staff at the time, consoled Toby at this critical time.
When a problem on the International Space Station left three astronauts losing oxygen and without a working space shuttle to rescue them, CJ pondered sending the secret military space shuttle to their aid. CJ and Toby discussed the issue since David had already revealed the secret space shuttle to Toby. Using the secret space shuttle would've possibly revealed its existence, however Toby believed David would've been willing to sacrifice his life to protect a national secret.
Later, when the military space shuttle scandal landed Toby in serious legal trouble, Andy argues that Toby should reveal David as the person who told him about the classified shuttle. Toby was unwilling to tarnish David's reputation.
Behind the scenes
- David is never portrayed in the show (even in a photograph), he's only mentioned.